Viet Nam News
HẢI DƯƠNG — Every year, thousands of people from all over the country flock to Hải Dương Province to attend solemn rituals and enjoy traditional games of the Côn Sơn-Kiếp Bạc Spring Festival.
The latest edition of the festival, which has been celebrated for around 700 years, opened on Sunday, the 16th day of the first lunar month at the Côn Sơn-Kiếp Bạc complex.
The festival commemorates the 683rd death anniversary of the Venerable Huyền Quang, one of the first three patriarchs of Trúc Lâm Zen Buddhism (besides King Trần Nhân Tông and Pháp Loa).
It will also inaugurate the Cửu phẩm liên hoa (nine lotus tower), a structure with special architectural and religious significance. Restoration work on the tower began in 2014 and was completed in 2016.
The festival’s opening ceremony was held at the Côn Sơn Pagoda on Sunday morning in the presence of Government and local leaders including Vice President Đặng Thị Ngọc Thịnh, Hải Dương Party Committee Secretary, Nguyễn Mạnh Hiển, Chairman of Hải Dương People’s Committee, Nguyễn Dương Thái and Deputy Chairman of Hải Dương People’s Committee, Lê Văn Cầu.
“Côn Sơn - Kiếp Bạc festival has significant meaning in history, demonstrating the great contribution of Trúc Lâm Zen to the founding of the nation and its defence.
“Côn Sơn pagoda was built in the14th century and was the centre of Trúc Lâm Zen Buddhism. Every year, people from all over the country come to the festival and commemorate the death anniversary of Venerable Huyền Trang,” said Cầu.
The festival, which features many unique religious rituals honours national heroes and introduces historic and cultural relics to visitors, he added.
The nine-storeyed lotus tower was also inaugurated on Sunday. It has a statue of Amitabha on the top floor and more than 200 other Buddha statues.
The tower symbolises nirvana, the state of enlightenment that Amitabha inhabits.
The original Cửu phẩm liên hoa was built by Venerable Huyền Quang during the reign of the Trần Dynasty and was lost after the Lê Dynasty took power.
Based on the archaeological studies and historic documents, Hải Dương Province restored the structure in 2014. Traditional materials including Bát Tràng brick, lim wood (ironwood), blue Thanh Hóa stone and jackfruit wood were used.
As part of the festival, Buddhist ritual called Liên hoa hội thượng, which prays for peace and security for the nation and its people, was held at the Côn Sơn Pagoda on Friday evening. Thousands of Buddhist followers and people participated in the ritual.
Wrestling contests and bánh chưng (square sticky rice cake) making competitions were also held.
The Côn Sơn-Kiếp Bạc complex was declared as a national relic in 1962 and as special national relic in 2012. The Côn Sơn-Kiếp Bạc festival was recognised as national intangible heritage in 2013.
The festival will run until February 19 this year. — VNS