Phú Thọ prepares for pilgrim festival

Update: April, 01/2016 - 09:00
Ode to ancestors: Last year’s Hùng Kings Temple Festival attracted seven million people. – Photo

HÀ NỘI – Phú Thọ Province will spare no efforts to host the annual pilgrim festival dedicated to Vietnamese ancestors, which will be held in middle of this month, the province’s leaders said.

“We will try to organise the festival in the most professional way,” Hà Kế San, deputy chairman of the northern province’s people’s committee, said at a press conference on the festival, held in Hà Nội earlier this week. “There will be no traffic jams or overcharging, and no beggars. The organising board will also refuse to accept giant-sized offerings from individuals and agencies, such as giant bánh chưng, bành dày (square and round glutinous cakes) and giant bottles of wine, as in previous years.”

The annual Hùng Kings Temple Festival commemorates the 18 Hùng Kings, the country’s founders who launched a golden age in Vietnamese history. Initially celebrated as a local holiday, the ceremony was recognised as a national event in 2007. The ceremony takes place over several days, but the 10th day of the third lunar month is considered to be the most important one. It demonstrates a strong desire for national prosperity and symbolises community spirit. Attending the festival is a deeply-rooted custom in the minds of Vietnamese people in and outside the country.

This year, the three provinces of Hưng Yên, Bình Thuận and Cà Mau will represent the three regions of the country to co-host the national festival in Phú Thọ Province. Leaders, people and artists from the provinces will participate in the event.

Diverse activities will be held between April 12 and 16, such as bánh chưng and bánh dày making contests, sports events, a folk song festival and a street carnival that will introduce the diversity of the province’s folk culture to visitors.

A special art performance will be held at 8pm on April 12, and an incense-offering ceremony to the Hùng Kings will be organised on the morning of April 16 at the Hùng Kings Temple relics.

The street carnival, a highlight of the festival, will take place on the night of April 12, in which 1,800 people will showcase folk art along Trần Phú Street and on the central stage of Việt Trì City. The carnival will end with fireworks.

The local art of xoan singing will be extensively featured through performances and a music festival. The UNESCO in 2011 listed “xoan” singing as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage that was in need of urgent protection. Last year, Việt Nam submitted a report to the UNESCO, stating that xoan singing has seen a revival thanks to the great efforts made by Phú Thọ Province.

At the press conference, San said the province in co-operation with concerned agencies had submitted a new document to the UNESCO at the end of last month, which wanted recognition of xoan singing recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The UNESCO’s decision will be announced in 2017.

The organising board said all preparations for the festival were almost over. The provincial authorities have set up an inter-sector examining board to detect and fine cases of violations of rules. Hotels or restaurants that overcharge visitors will be named in local media and heavily fined. Two hotlines will be available to provide support to visitors on all days of the festival.

The organising board will strictly control the use of drone cameras at the festival. Only flying cameras can be used at the event, with permission from authorities, to ensure the safety of the participants. However, the flying cameras cannot be used during the solemn incense offering ceremony on the morning of April 16.

Last year, the festival attracted seven million pilgrims, according to San.

The Hùng Kings complex is located on Nghĩa Lĩnh Mountain in Phong Châu District, about 100km northwest of Hà Nội. It is a complex of ancient tombs, monuments and temples. -- VNS