Being held annually from the 10th to the 12th day of the second lunar month, the Saint Chu Dong Tu is a popular religious festival celebrating Godfather Chu Dong Tu, who discovered culture, conquered marsh, and developed agriculture and trade in the Vietnamese society. The Saint Chu Dong Tu festival is a joyful occasion whose events include a procession, religious ceremonies, feasting, music and dance and children’s games.
Highlights of Saint Chu Dong Tu Festival
Saint Chu Dong Tu is one of the four immortal gods in the Vietnamese pantheon. He is in charge of teaching Vietnamese people how to do business, weaving and fishing to get a prosperous and joyful life.
Celebrations take place at two beautiful temples of Da Hoa and Da Trach, in Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province, about 20 kilometers from Hanoi. Starting from Ha Noi, visitors can travel downstream on the Red River by boat or canoe, or go by motorbike along the dyke of the Red River.
During the festival, pilgrims in colourful dress converge on the two temples, Da Trach and Da Hoa. As the festival is celebrated, pilgrims wearing gaudy dress, come in the two temples in Da Trach and Da Hoa.
After the opening ceremony, there is a procession to remind people of the legend, life and work of Saint Chu Dong Tu and his two wives. Heading the procession which consists of beautiful girls in colourful dress and musical bands are the two luxurious dragons controlled by ten people in the rhythm of the drum.
Moreover, the procession includes musical bands, God palanquin and eight weapons for ornaments and big pots. They sit on tens of boats, rowing to the middle of the river, scooping water into the pots and coming back to bathe the statue. After thurifying ceremony, you will be treated with various forms of entertainment like wrestling, fighting with sticks, human chess, traditional and religious dances and Cheo singing.
Legend about Da Trach Temple
The legend has it that Da Trach Temple was built on the former high platform of Chu Dong Tu and Princess Tien Dung’s castle and citadel, after they returned to the Heaven. Once a year, villagers in traditional ao dais and sarongs make their way to the temple of Chu Dong Tu to make offerings of incense, flowers and candles. They say prayers for the soul of the famous fisherman and for their friends and family who risk their lives by fishing out at sea. It is an interesting local spectacle and if you’re in the area, definitely worth a visit.
The festival is opened by a procession to carry water from Red river to the temple. The majestic procession is led by golden-dragon dancers, flag carriers, drummers, an octet of instrument players, eight carriers of offering weapons, sinh tien dancers, long dinh palanquin, water big-bellied jar palanquin, conical hat palanquin, walking palanquin and three palanquins carrying statues of Chu Dong Tu and Princess Tien Dung.
When the procession arrives in Red river, at the same time, a dragon boat from the Tu Nhien (Nature) alluvial plain comes to join the procession. On the river, flags fluttering in the wind, golden dragon effigies waving and the bustling sound of drums make the procession splendid and ebullient.
In this festival, you will have a chance to know more about Vietnamese traditional art, such as trong quan singing, quan ho singing, ca tru, etc. and traditional games (earthenware pot beating, kieu bridge passing, catching ducks in the pond, etc.) are held during the festival.
Legend about Da Hoa Temple
In the early morning of the 10th, the inhabitants of nine communes hold a long procession along the dyke of the Red River to Da Hoa Temple. Marching in the van of the procession is Hoang Trach Commune. Following are Dong Que, Bang Nha, Phu Thi, Phuc Trach, Thiet Tru, Nhan Thap, Da Hoa communes, and finally Me So Commune.
When the procession reaches the temple, palanquins and offerings are placed at a stipulated place. Then, the members of the procession and pilgrims begin the opening ceremony at the courtyard. As the opening ceremony and incense presenting ceremony end, people participate in traditional games that take place during day and night.
It must be said that if you are in Vietnam, you will be strongly recommended not to miss out watching this festival. The host of processions, dance, music, food, fun and social gathering will mesmerize you during the festival. The package of dragon procession, martial arts competitions, lion dance, and Cheo performances (a kind of Vietnamese popular opera) make this festival grand, colourful and popular among the tourists.