Numerous festivals kick off amid Tet atmosphere hinh anh 1Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam beats the drum to open the Bai Dinh Pagoda festival (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival officially opened in Gia Vien district in the northern province of Ninh Binh on February 21 (the sixth day of the first lunar month), with the attendance of Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.

Delegates, Buddhist dignitaries and followers, and visitors offered incense and prayed for a peaceful new year.

The original 1,000 year-old Bai Dinh Pagoda (Bai Dinh Co Tu) is part of the Trang An Landscape Complex which was recognised as a world Cultural and Natural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Numerous festivals kick off amid Tet atmosphere hinh anh 2Thousands of visitors flock to the pagoda (Source: VNA)

The pagoda is composed of temples worshipping Buddha, the Mountain God, and the Mother Goddess of the Forest. It lies about 800 metres from the Tam The Temple of the new Bai Dinh Pagoda area.

The recent additions are considered the largest Buddhist temple complex in Vietnam and currently hold several national record-setting relics, including the largest bronze Buddha statue (150 tonnes), the largest bronze bell (30 tonnes), and the largest number of Arhat statues (500).

The pagoda festival will last until the end of March.
Numerous festivals kick off amid Tet atmosphere hinh anh 3An art performance at Huong Pagoda Festival (Source: VNA)

The same day, a ceremony was held at Huong Pagoda in Hanoi’s My Duc district to kick off the pagoda festival and receive a certificate recognising the Huong Son (Huong Pagoda) landscape and historical site complex as a special national relic site.

Nguyen Chi Thanh, head of the relic site’s management board, said that around 40,000 people visit Huong Pagoda on the first day of the festival.

During the lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, the pagoda welcomed 200,000 tourist arrivals, he added.

The Giong festival, recognised as part of the World Intangible Heritage, also opened in Hanoi’s Soc Son Temple on the sixth day of the first lunar month.
Numerous festivals kick off amid Tet atmosphere hinh anh 4A palanquin procession at the Giong Festival of Soc Temple (Source: VNA)

It will remain open to visitors until the eighth day of the first lunar month.

The festival celebrates Saint Giong, a legendary Vietnamese hero who fought against the northern invaders.

The legend says that once upon a time, a poor woman from Giong Village went to the rice paddy and saw a giant step. Curious, she stepped onto the step; not long after, she discovered she was pregnant and then gave birth to a son she named Giong. As a three-year old, the boy still didn’t know how to speak and never laughed. But when the country was invaded, the boy suddenly began to speak and asked the King to give him an iron horse, an iron suit of armour and an iron rod, so that he could fight against the invaders. He then rose up to become a giant.

After having fought triumphantly the enemy, he and his horse went to Soc Mountain. On the mountain top, he removed his armour and flew onto the sky on his horse.

This festival is considered one more testament to the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese nation when pitted against foreign invaders.-VNA