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Hung Kings’ Temple Festival

Hung King Festival is one of the most meaningful and important festivals in Vietnam. This festival has been inherited and brought into play for thousands of years by Vietnamese people, in spite of the severe domination of China and the French colonialism. The festival is often organized under the national-scale to commemorate Hung Kings who are the ancestors of Vietnamese people. The habit of celebrating Hung King Festival became the long-lasting cultural tradition of Vietnamese people. Annually, the festival appeals thousands of people who fled to Hung Temple from provinces across the country and overseas. It is a national holidays in Vietnam. All Vietnamese people can have their day off on the occasion of this festival. Like other holidays in the country such as New  Year (in solar calendar), traditional Tet holiday, Liberation Day of Southern Vietnam, Labor Day and Independence Day, Vietnamese people during Hung King Festival stop all their business to join in cultural activities of commemorating Hung Kings. People gather in Phu Tho to take part in exciting atmosphere of this festival and enjoy the holiday.

Hung King Festival is officially open from the 8th to 11th days of the third month in lunar calendar in Hung Temple (Phu Tho), but the 10th day is the feast day. The Vietnam festival is held in Hung Temple in Phu Tho province. Hung Temple is a group of worshiping Hung Kings in Nghi Linh Mountain. The temple was built under the dynasty of Dinh Tien Hoang. By 15th century, the temple was rebuilt, and this architecture remains now. Here is also the area of Van Lang’s capital.

Similar to other Vietnamese festivals in Northern Vietnam, Hung King Temple Festival consists of two main parts: the ceremony and the festival. The section of the ceremony is celebrated solemnly as national festival. The offerings are offered with three animals (one pig, one goat and one beef), Banh Chung (sticky rice cake), Banh Giay (crushed sticky rice pudding), and colorful sticky rice in the combination with the instrument of ancient bronze drum. After a while drums sound, the main holder will celebrate the ceremony under the direction of a master, followed by the celebration of the notables in the host. Finally, local people, visitors and pilgrims enter Hung Temple and practice traditional customs. After the ceremony, it comes to the festival. At all Hung Temple Festivals, the competition of sedan chairs between villages is organized. By virtue of the emergence of the lavish processions, the festive atmosphere becomes more cheerful and exciting. Sedan chairs of villages have to be gathered before the competition for a few days. The winner of this competition has an opportunity to take the procession to the Upper Temple to celebrate national ceremony. Therefore, that will be a pride for the winner and that village as for the belief of being blessed by Hung Kings. However, in order to have splendid and gorgeous sedan chairs in the procession, villagers have to meticulous preparation. The hardship of villagers urges them to overcome to reach the sacred and noble things towards ancestors. It is the spiritual life of Vietnamese people, which expresses through a clear form of cultural activities, traditional beliefs.

There are three sedan chairs in a procession. They are all covered by royal colors with sophisticated sculptural patterns, and skillful decorations. The first sedan chair contains offerings for ritual such as beautiful flowers, incenses, betel, areca, and wine. The second sedan chair consists of ancestral shelves of deities with the parasols and ranges in several colors. The last sedan chair is displayed with Banh Chung, Banh Giay and head of pig, followed by the old villagers and officials. During the Vietnam festival, the ceremony song Xoan singing is one of unique and important activities. It is believed that Xoan singing previously called Xuan singing since the empire of Hung Kings, and then was widely popularized in the region. At the beginning, the head of Xoan Kim Duc, one of the most famous Xoan singing group, and the master of the ceremony will perform in front of the furnace bridge, and then, dancers will perform their dancing. Finally, there will have songs of honoring deities and Hung Kings. Meanwhile, in the Lower Hung Temple, Tru singing is also performed to honor the festival and other activities. Besides, there are many traditional activities taking place and appealing everyone.

Hung Temple Festival is beautiful custom in Vietnamese tradition. For a long time, in folk consciousness, the land of Hung Kings becomes a “sacred sanctuary” of the country. Through the vicissitudes of historical eras, Hung Temple Festival has been held annually. This has demonstrated the extraordinary bravery and brilliant civilization imbued with national identity. There is no religious discrimination between the pilgrims, they are proud of the descendants of Hung Kings. Hung Temple Festival or the death anniversary of the Hung is a day of gathering, praising the glory of the country, also a symbol of community’s spirit.

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