The long-awaited Tran Temple Festival in northern Nam Dinh province will open on the 12th day of the first lunar month, featuring a water procession and fish-offering ceremony.

As usual, the distribution of papers stamped with the holy royal seal will be the key event of the festival, which runs from the 12th to the 16th of the first lunar month (February 14-19), said Nguyen Xuan Hoat, chief manager of the Tran Temple-Thap Pagoda historical and cultural relic site.

The temple will officially open to the public on the 15th day. Further, all procedures related to the stamp distribution, from purifying to the opening of seals, will have been completed the night before, Hoat reported to a conference last week in Hanoi.

As of the 15th day, stamps will be handed out and continue being distributed for six days after the close of the official festival, instead of on only one day, as in the past.

According to officials at the Vietnam Culture and Arts Institute, the stamps were part of a local tradition dating back to the Tran dynasty (1225-1400) that defeated the powerful Yuan invasion forces from the north, and while today's worshippers pray for personal fortunes, villagers in the past took part in the ceremony to pray for peace.

The five-day festival will also include a range of traditional folk art performances and games with kylin and dragon dances, cheo (popular theatre), chau van (meditation) worshipping rituals, human chess games, wrestling, and martial arts demonstrations.

Local authorities said they will join efforts to ensure order and security at the event, which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.-VNA