PHU THO — A palanquin procession, key in a series of cultural and spiritual activities celebrating the Hung Kings Death Anniversary (or Hung Kings Temple Festival), will take place in northern Phu Tho Province today.
|Major attraction: Thousands flock to the Hung Kings Temple Festival to join in one of the most important spiritual events of the year. Yet not all understand the meaning of the Hung kings worship customs, according to researchers. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh
The event, held in the Hung Temple area, will commence from 9 to 11am and gather local authorities, diplomatic delegations and UNESCO representatives.
Pham Ba Khiem, deputy director of Phu Tho Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said the palanquins will be carried from surrounding communes to the temples, located on Nghia Linh Mountain.
There will be performances by xoan (Phu Tho folk singing) artists from local An Thai Village. The art form was recognised as an intangible heritage in need of urgent protection by UNESCO.
On this occasion, a book based on the worship of the Hung kings will be made available in Vietnamese, English and French as a gift to domestic and foreign guests.
A worship ceremony commemorating Lac Long Quan and Au Co, thought to be the father and mother of Vietnamese people, was organised on Tuesday alongside a trade fair.
Yesterday, various activities, including banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and banh day (round sticky rice cake) making, and folk singing contests also took place.
The festival will continue until Saturday.
A workshop on Hung kings worship was held on Monday with the aim of gaining UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage.
Historian Le Van Lan said the worshipping of Hung kings has changed from original customs over time.
He noted that many people these days appeared to read Buddhist teachings alongside worshipping the kings.
Lan added that some Buddhist statues had also been placed inside temples previously reserved for Hung kings worship, expressing his concern at such mingling of beliefs.
"In order to solve the problem," he said, "We should help people understand the nature and meaning of Hung kings worship in distinguishing it from other religious practices."
Professor Dang Van Bai said that worshipping Hung kings also took place at 108 other temples, pagodas and communal houses in the province as well as at 1,000 other locations throughout the country.
The Hung kings once ruled the Van Lang (early name of Viet Nam) State.
Legend tells of the dragon lord Lac Long Quan and the mountain fairy Au Co who had 100 sons. As the parents belonged to different realms, they parted ways, each taking 50 of the 100 sons to their respective homes. The eldest son went to live by the coast, in the domain of dragons.
This particular son came to power in 2897 BC, known as Hung Vuong and ruled an area covering what is now North Viet Nam and part of southern China. He founded the Hong Bang dynasty, whose members ruled Viet Nam until 258 BC.
The dynasty existed in Vietnamese prehistory, so much of the lore from this time is now lost to the ages. The descendants took the title of Hung Vuong after the first king, and many Vietnamese folk-tales mention them.
Stories additionally tell of the heroics of 18 different Hung kings. — VNS