A practitioner performs rituals of Mother Goddess Worship. — VNA/VNS Photo
YÊN BÁI — A trance ceremony, traditional games and photo exhibitions are among activities of the Mother Goddess Worship and Cơm Mới (New Rice) Festivals that are both being held in Đông Cuông Temple in Văn Yên District in the northern province of Yên Bái.
According to Lã Thị Liền, vice chairwoman of Văn Yên District People’s Committee and also head of the management board of Đông Cuông Temple, the combination of the two festivals this year would create diversified activities for visitors nationwide to experience original local cultures.
“The event aims to promote the image of the national cultural and historical relic of Đông Cuông Temple to both domestic and international tourists, and therefore preserve and uphold the values of the relic.
“Additionally, the festivals are expected to create a breakthrough in local spiritual tourism, contributing to the provincial socio-economic development; offer space for ritual musicians and performers to gather to enhance the cultural values of the Mother Goddess worship that has been honoured by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)," she noted.
The festivals kick off with a special art show featuring performances of renowned Vietnamese singers like Tân Nhàn and Hồng Liên and the procession of the symbol of Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (the Princess of the Forest), the second goddess who protects forests and mountains in the Mother Goddess religion.
Other major activities held as part of the festivals include the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Đông Cuông Temple as well as the ceremonies of incense and new rice offerings.
Many other activities that are expected to attract visitors are performances of a trance ceremony, contest of making cốm (young sticky rice), traditional games like tug-of-war, photos and painting exhibitions featuring rituals and cultural activities of Văn Yên District.
Exhibitions of typical specialties and tours to spiritual and ecological destinations within the district will also be held for tourists on the occasion.
“Đông Cuông Temple is considered to be the origin of Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (the Princess of the Forest) in the Mother Goddess religion by many folk researchers. The Goddess is assumed to possess supreme power but is also very close to locals’ spiritual life. In Mother Goddess Worship in general and Mẫu Thượng Ngàn worship in particular, the ceremonies and festivals are diverse and original, which distinguishes them from other belief and religions, especially the hầu bóng (the ceremony during which the spirits become incarnated in a professional medium),” Liền said.
According to the vice chairwoman, the Cơm Mới (New Rice) Festival, which is held at Đông Cuông Temple at the beginning of the ninth lunar month, plays a significant role in the spiritual life of the locals.
After a harvest season, Tày Khao ethnic minorities in Yên Bái Province normally slaughter buffalo and make cốm (young sticky rice) as offerings to their ancestors and the Mother Goddess who blesses them with favourable natural conditions for bumper crops.
“The organisation of the New Rice Festival not only preserves the national cultural beauty but also help to educate the future generations about the tradition of being grateful to ancestors,” she added.
The festivals will run until October 28. — VNS