Hung Temple Festival is a traditional festival of Vietnamese people with the purpose of remembering the merit of building the country of Hung Kings. The festival is held on the 10th of March of the lunar calendar in Hung Temple, Viet Tri City, Phu Tho Province, Northern Vietnam.
According to legend, Hung Vuong is the name of the kings of Van Lang country (Van Lang was the first name of Vietnam about 4 thousand years ago). There are 18 Hung kings in total. Hung kings are considered being kings having the first merit in establishing the country of Vietnam.
Hung Temple is located on Nghia Linh Mountain, Hy Cuong Commune, Viet Tri City, Phu Tho Province, 100km north of Hanoi. It is an architectural complex including tombs, temples and ancient shrines. From the foot of the mountain going up, through the temple gate, the visitor stop is Ha Temple, which is said to be the place where Mrs. Au Co laid a hundred eggs. Through Ha Temple is Trung Temple, where Hung kings used as the meeting place for Lac Hau and Lac Tuong (The names of the most high-ranking officers in Hung Vuong times). At the top of the mountain is Thuong Temple where there are the shrine of Hung Kings and the tomb of the Sixth Hung Vuong King. From Thuong Temple to the southwest is Gieng Temple, where there is a rock well all year round with clear water. It is said that in the past, the princesses Tien Dung and Ngoc Hoa, the daughters of the Eighteenth Hung Vuong King, often came to wash their hair there.
According to history books, under the independent dynasties (Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran, Le), the kings organized the festival, considering it an important work. It has become a tradition. Folk has got sentence: “Anybody goes anywhere, remember the ancestor death anniversary day of the 10th of March” (Dù ai đi ngược về xuôi, nhớ ngày giỗ tổ mùng mười tháng ba).
Following the tradition of the ancestor, today, the country is peaceful, independent, Vietnamese people organize Hung Temple Festival very solemnly. Every year, there are thousands of people attending, including senior government leaders such as the State President of Vietnam, the President of the State Parliament or Prime Minister. A week before the official holiday, there are many competitions of arts and sports taking place excitingly, for example, Xoan singing (a special kind of fold sing in Phu Tho), wrestling, tug of war, boat rowing (at Bach Hat River, where Hung kings used to train navy)
Hung Temple Festival officially happens on March 10th with 2 ceremonies:
– Palanquin Procession ceremony: The Palanquin Procession starts from the foot of the mountain, passing Ha Temple, Trung Temple to Thuong Temple. The procession takes place in the jubilant atmosphere with flags, colorful formal uniform and resounding drums and gongs.
– Incense-Offering Ceremony: The Incense-Offering Ceremony takes place in a solemn atmosphere. Attendees gather in front of the door of Thuong Temple to pray the Hung King. First, the organizing board introduces the participants and the meaning of the ceremony, then the delegates offer incense, then the provincial president or vice president reads Chuc Van (a kind of ancient essay is read on occasion of the festivals in the temple) with a powerful voice. The content of the essay speaks of the merit founding the country of Hung kings and the deep gratitude of the nation towards them. After reading the text, delegates and people go to bow in front of the altar of Hung kings.
Death Anniversary of Hung Kings takes place not only in Hung Temple but also in all village communal houses in Vietnam, even in areas where Vietnamese people live in foreign countries. This is the day the Vietnamese nation is headed towards the source of the nation. The festival also strengthens the national unity, the love of the homeland of Vietnam.