|The procession of Mother Goddess during the annual Hòn Chén rituals festival. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Văn Sum|Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — A Mother Goddess ritual worshipping festival will start Saturday at the Hòn Chén Temple, a monument built by the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) kings hundreds of years ago in the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế.
The three-day festival will include a grand boat procession from a temple in Huế City to Hòn Chén sitting on a mountain up the Hương (Perfume) River.
The procession aims to welcome the Thiên Y Ana Mother Goddess to the mountain temple for three days of rituals. During that time, mediums will perform rituals inside the temple while thousands will pray and provide offerings to the goddess.
It is a chance for audiences to enjoy chầu văn music and ritual dances with mediums dressed in colourful, old-style costumes.
However, the crowded temples are not for the faint-hearted during the festival due to the turmoil, heat and thick smoke from the thousands of sticks of incense.
The festival occurs every year in March and July of the lunar calendar. Mother Goddess worship is considered a religion in Việt Nam, and has millions of followers. Some believe deeply in the power of the ritual, including its capacity to bring back the souls of the dead to converse with their descendants.
The temple was originally built to worship Goddess PoNagar by the Champa people. When the dynasty’s kings settled down in Thừa Thiên-Huế, the dynasty second king Minh Mạng (1820-1841) restored and named it Hoàn Chén, which later was misspelled as Hòn Chén.
Later, King Đồng Khánh (1885-1889) expanded the temple, named it Huệ Nam, and facilitated the practice of Mother Goddess worshipping as he believed the Mother Goddess had helped him gain the throne. However, local residents have continued to call it Hòn Chén. — VNS