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Tran Temple festival extends key ritual for pilgrims' benefit

Update: January, 20/2014 - 08:48

Auspicious start: A dragon dance performed last year at the opening of the popular Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh Province. — VNA/VNS photo Nguyen Truong

NAM DINH (VNS) — The long-awaited Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh Province will open on the 12th day of the first lunar month, featuring a water procession and fish-offering ceremony.

The ceremonial procession will move from Co Trach Temple to Thien Truong Temple. After the ritual, fish will be released into the Hong (Red) River.

However, as usual, the distribution of papers stamped with the holy royal seal will be the key event of the festival, which runs from the 12th to the 16th of the first lunar month (February 14-19), said Nguyen Xuan Hoat, chief manager of the Tran Temple-Thap Pagoda historical and cultural relic site .

The temple will officially open to the public on the 15th day. Further, all procedures related to the stamp distribution, from purifying to the opening of seals, were completed the night before, Hoat reported to a conference last week in Ha Noi.

As of the 15th day, stamps will be handed out and continue being distributed for six days after the close of the official festival, instead of on only one day, as in the past.

According to officials at the Viet Nam Culture and Arts Institute, the stamps were part of a local tradition that dated back to the Tran dynasty (1225-1400), and while today's worshippers pray for personal fortunes, villagers in the past took part in the ceremony to pray for peace.

The five-day festival will also include a range of traditional folk art performances and games with kylin and dragon dances, cheo (popular theatre), chau van (meditation) worshipping rituals, human chess games, wrestling, and martial arts demonstrations.

Cao Thi Tinh, Vice chairman of the Nam Dinh People's Committee, said his administration will join efforts to ensure order and security at the event, which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. — VNS

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