Keo Autumn Festival 2020 takes place with only ritual ceremonies while the festival activities will be minimalised. — Photo sovhttdl.thaibinh.gov.vn
THÁI BÌNH — A major festival for residents in the Red River Delta is taking place in the Keo Pagoda in the northern province of Thái Bình.
According to Nguyễn Công Diện, vice chairman of Vũ Thư District People’s Committee and the head of the organisation board of the Keo Pagoda Autumn Festival, the ceremonial and festive parts of this year’s event will be minimised due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consecutive storms causing severe damage to central provinces.
The opening ceremony of the festival will not be held on a large scale like in previous years and no theatre or stage has been set up for the festive drum competition and love duet singing performance on the water pavilion.
“This year’s Keo Festival only maintains traditional rituals. Folk games that are often held on this occasion such as swimming or boat races all have to be cancelled,” Diện said.
The organisers of the Autumn Keo Pagoda Festival will focus on maintaining security and order within the relic area and strictly complying with pandemic prevention measures.
Pilgrims are therefore recommended to wear masks while attending all activities within the festival.
The Keo Pagoda Festival is held twice a year – the spring festival is held on the fourth day of the first lunar month while the autumn festival takes place in the middle of the ninth lunar month.
The events feature many traditional and cultural sports and activities that are closely associated with the life of farmers residing in the Red River Delta, like palanquin processions, swimming or rowing competitions on the river.
“The yearly festival is an occasion for both locals and pilgrims nationwide to pay tribute to the Buddha, the deities and their predecessors with significant contribution to the national protection and the construction of the pagoda.
"Tourists are all welcomed to the festival to experience the original cultural and artistic values of the relic,” he added.
Keo Pagoda in Duy Nhất Commune, Vũ Thư District, was built in the early 17th century to honour Dương Không Lộ, a Vietnamese monk who is said to have reached nirvana. It is one of the most ancient temples in Việt Nam that still retains an almost intact traditional wooden architecture that dates back 400 years.
Classified as a special national relic in September 2012, the pagoda is now a highlighted attraction in Thái Bình.
Keo Pagoda Festival was recognised as the national intangible cultural heritage in 2017 while the wooden bell tower of the structure was recognised by the Việt Nam Record Organisation (Vietkings) as the tallest of its kind in Việt Nam in 2007.
The festival will end on October 31. — VNS