celebrates its Hung founders
The opening performance, called Forever the Hung Kings’ Holy
Land, featured 2,500 artists. - VNS Photo Truong Vi
to the kings:
Pilgrims burn incense at the Hung Temple to pay respect to the
national ancestors, the Hung Kings.
to Viet Tri Town leave from Ha Noi’s My Dinh Bus Station every
30 minutes from 5am to 6pm. It takes 2.15 hour to reach the
destination. Tickets cost VND22,000 each.
in Viet Tri Town:
dinner filled with seafood delicacies costs VND100,000 per
Over a million and
a half people travelled north this weekend to honour Viet Nam’s eighteen
original kings. The Hung Kings Festival 2005 is bigger and brighter than ever
before. Khanh Chi reports on the history and festivities.
Beginning at 7am tomorrow
morning, Vietnamese from all the parts of the country will converge in the
northern Phu Tho Province to celebrate and pay respects to the nation’s
fathers, the Hung Kings.
Each year, on the 10th day
of the third lunar month, the Bach Viet ethnic group holds a festival to honour
their ancestors, the 18 Hung Kings. While the festival has drawn huge crowds
since it was named a day for national celebration in 2000, this yearcelebration
promises to be the biggest ever, as it coincides with the 30th anniversary of
the national reunification and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the
Tomorrow morning, National
Assembly Chairman Nguyen Van An will lead senior Party and State officials and
pilgrims to the Hung Upper Temple for a State ritual to pay homage to the
founders of the nation.
"It is time for all
Vietnamese generations to show profound gratitude towards the ancestors who
built and defended our nation and to promote the saying, ‘Remember the water
source when you drink it’," Nguyen Thi Kim Hai, deputy chairman of the
provincial People’s Committee and head of the festival’s organising board
The ceremony, solemn and
sacred, will be held at the Hung Thuong (Upper) Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain,
which was used for worshipping gods during the Hung Dynasty, who settled the Van
Lang kingdom, or what is now Viet Tri Town.
The ceremony will begin at
Viet Tri’s Phu Tho Conference Centre, then move to the Hung Temple’s
festival centre and then to upper temple. The participants will lay a wreaths of
flowers in front of the carved stele that marks the place where President Ho Chi
Minh said famously, "the Hung Kings founded the nation, we should get
together to protect our land," while talking to pioneering Vietnamese
All delegates and
participants will wear festive costumes as they carry the national and festival
flags, and display a wreath that reads "Vietnamese people remember the
merits of Hung Kings." Eight young girls in traditional long dresses will
carry incense, flowers, and offerings, and the procession will be accompanied by
musicians playing ceremonial music.
One row of pilgrims will
be comprised of 100 young men wearing traditional costumes and will reflect the
legendary 100 sons of the Vietnamese people.
The five-day festival was
officially opened by a large-scale cultural and artistic performance on Thursday
night at the newly-built 20,000-seat Viet Tri Stadium in Viet Tri Town, 12km
from the Hung Temple.
The opening performance,
lasting just over an hour, called Forever Hung Kings’ Holy Land, was performed
by 2,500 artists from Central and local art troupes and was called "most
impressive" by the director Pham Thi Thanh.
"It consisted of
three acts, with ten scenes each, that were multicoloured, exciting and
beautiful, combining traditional Vietnamese art with modern technology to
demonstrate gratitude for the kings," said Thanh, who also directed the
closing ceremony. The closing ceremony, Phu Tho, Ancestral Land with the New Era
will be held on Van Lang Park’s floating Dam Ca Stage at 7pm tomorrow, and
focuses more on the balance between the ancient and the modern.
In the third act, artists
shaped a large-scale banh chung, a Vietnamese cake made of sticky rice,
green bean and pork usually made during the lunar new year. The banh chung
was wrapped in green leaves and tied in red bamboo string to be offered to the
Hung Kings and to commemorate the effort of Lang Lieu, the youngest son of the
18th Hung King, who was the original creator of the traditional cake.
Thanh said the cake was
"created" by 1,000 artists.
"I feel incredibly
happy. It is the first time I have been part of such a big performance, and it’s
even more special that it’s for the Hung Temple Festival," said Pham Anh
Tuyet, 22, a first-year student at the Phu Tho School of Culture and Arts. She
said she felt proud of being born on the very place the Hung Kings founded the
"We practised for 20
days before the performance," she said, raising a fake tea tree over her
head, a prop in the seventh scene. She explained that there were five common
plants in Phu Tho Province, rice, palm, tea, bamboo and millet that were being
featured in the performance.
Apart from the opening,
closing and incense ceremonies, there were a range of cultural, athletic and
Professional art groups
including the Bac Ninh Province’s Quan ho (folk) songs, Dak Lak Song
and Dance group, Viet Nam Circus performance group, Thang Long Song and Dance
Theatre, and song and dance groups from Lang Son, Lao Cai and Phu Tho provinces
Other festival activities
included a rice-cooking race, bronze drumming, human chess, a rice-cake braying
contest, a boat race, wrestling matches, and water puppetry. A photograph
exhibition displaying the works from 15 northern provinces, a rural-styled
market, a trade fair, a fashion show promoting Vietnamese styles, an
international sculpting camp featuring 31 sculptors from Viet Nam, Norway, the
Netherlands, Cuba, the US and Sweden took place continuously throughout the
celebration. National and local art troupes from China, Japan, and the Republic
of Korea also joined the festivities.
Forty musicians from Korea’s
National Traditional Orchestra played folk songs from different regions in South
Korea, including Jindo Arirang, Miryang Arirang, Seongjupuri, and Baettuieora.
The Japanese Dodan-Pa beat their traditional Japanese Wadaiko and Taiko drums
and other Japanese artists gave a Yamaha motorbike performance. A Chinese art
troupe from the Guangxi Province joined in with lion dances.
Nguyen Dac Sinh, director
of the festival’s press centre and editor-in-chief of the Phu Tho Newspaper
estimated that 1.5 million visitors gathered in Viet Tri Town and at Hung Temple
during the festival. He continued that the influx of celebrants caused traffic
jams in going to the Temple.
"This day last year
(seven days before the festival), it was not so crowded as now," said Duong
Hong, a 73-year-old retiree from the neighbouring Vinh Phuc Province’s Vinh
Hong said he did not go on
the actual day of the incense presenting ceremony because it would be so crowded
that he could not visit every corner of the Hung Temple.
He said there have been
many changes since last year. "Everything is organised better this year,
from the vehicle parking to relaxing spaces," as he looked at ancient Dong
Son drum displayed at the museum beneath the Nghia Linh Mountain.
"Also, visitors seem
to be more aware of environmental protection here because they are paying homage
to the founders of our nation," Hong said, saying goodbye as he was about
to climb up to the Hung Temple.
A press centre was set up
by the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunications and the provincial Post Office to
support the media, with 40 computers and two flat-screen TVs.
Chairman of the provincial
People’s Committee, Ngo Duc Vuong, said at the anniversary, Phu Tho’s
residents were honoured to represent people nationwide to care and preserve the
"Local people and
authorities have invested a great deal of time and effort into the protection
and restoration of these historical relics."
A group of young men tries to win the sticky rice braying
of a sovereign nation
It is said that the first
king of the country was Kinh Duong, who ruled over a vast territory in the south
called Xich Quy (Red Devil).
Kinh Duong married the
daughter of Than Long (Sacred Dragon), king of Lake Dongding. The couple had a
son, Sung Lam, who later became king and called himself Lac Long Quan (King
Dragon of the Land of Lac). The wife of Lac Long Quan, Au Co, gave birth to a
sac containing 100 eggs from which 100 babies were born.
One day, Lac Long Quan
told his wife "I descend from dragons and you from fairies. We’re as
incompatible as water and fire and we cannot continue in harmony." The king
parted from his queen, taking to the sea with 50 of his children and his wife
moved to the mountains, followed by the rest of the clan.
The eldest son, who was
with this mother, established himself at Phong Chau, now the southern part of
Phu Tho Province, and made himself king. That was King Hung I whose realm was
made up by 50 tribes.
The 18 Hung kings then
ruled the country from 2879 to 258BC.
According to historical
records, the regime of the Hung Kings was an impressive, brilliant and
outstanding start for establishing Viet Nam as a sovereign nation.
The 18 generations of the
Hung Kings saw the birth and development of a nation and are credited with
forging national characteristics such as the sense of community, mutual
affection, patriotism and unwillingness to yield to oppression. From this
original settlement, the Hong (Red) River civilisation and the pre-Dong Son
This celebrated date, the
10th day of the third lunar month, is dedicated to commemorating the anniversary
of their ancestor’s death, founder of the Vietnamese nation—the first Hung
Hung Temple is located on
Nghia Linh Mountain range, 100km north-west of Ha Noi in Lam Thao District, Phu
Tho Province. - VNS