Co Loa Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam

Every year, on January 6th of the lunar calendar, the people in Co Loa village and 7 nearby villages hold Co Loa Festival (Cổ Loa Festival) at High Temple (Thượng Temple) to honor the merit of King An Duong Vuong (An Dương Vương), who founded Âu Lạc state and built Cổ Loa citadel. Cổ Loa people have the sentence, “Dying has to leave children and grandchildren, living does not miss January 6” (Vietnamese: “Chết thì bỏ con bỏ cháu, sống không bỏ ngày mùng 6 tháng giêng”).

An Duong Vuong and Co Loa citadel

An Dương Vương, whose real name is Thục Phán, is a king who founded Âu Lạc state and is the only king who ruled this state. Âu Lạc is the second state in Vietnamese history after the first Văn Lang state of the Hùng kings. The reigning time of An Dương Vương was recorded differently. Old history books like Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư, Khâm Định Việt Sử informed that his reigning time lasted 50 years, from 257 BC to 208 BC. Modern historians basing on the history book of Tư Mã Thiên (Chinese character: 司馬遷; 145 BC – 86 B.C.), the document closest to the era of Âu Lạc, suggested that the reigning time of An Dương Vương and Âu Lạc state existed between 208 BC and 179 BC, or nearly 30 years.

Cổ Loa is the most ancient citadel in Vietnam built by King An Dương Vương in the 3rd century BC (According to Viet Nam Sử Ký Toàn Thư) to make the headquarter of Âu Lạc (the name of Vietnam at that time), now in Cổ Loa village (Vietnamese: làng), Cổ Loa Commune (Vietnamese: xã), Đông Anh District, suburban Hanoi.

Read more about Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi

Co Loa Festival in Hanoi

January 6th of the lunar calendar is the main festival but the villagers have been preparing since December 14th. The dignitaries of the temple have chosen a good writer to write Chúc Văn to offer gods (Chúc Văn is a kind of essay with parallel sentences). That person must also be a high-achieving person, trusted by villagers. Early on the 6th day, a delegation wearing ceremonial clothing with flags, fans led by the leader of the ceremony wearing a red tunic comes to the writer’s house to bring Chúc Văn to the temple. The procession is very solemn and magnificent.

Co Loa Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam

Co Loa Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam. Image: Hanoitvonline.

While the Cổ Loa villagers take Chúc Văn to An Dương Vương temple, the villagers of 7 nearly villages carried out their procession bring village gods to An Dương Vương temple. On the roads, people always meet the procession with fans, flags, ceremonial clothing, a big drum, a gong, a palanquin, a music band between the spring weather.

After processions arrive at An Dương Vương temple, the incense offering ceremony begins to take place. The offerings include flowers, fruits, boiled eggs, meat, square glutinous rice cakes (Vietnamese: bánh chưng), which the king liked. Seven other villages and Cổ Loa village take turns performing the ceremony. The villages pray King An Dương Vương to bless to their villages.

Next is the procession ceremony bringing the gods of the villages to Cổ Loa village communal house. This is the most solemn and largest procession. All palanquins of the villages are in the same procession. From Thượng temple (An Dương Vương temple) it goes around Ngọc well, to the top of the village, then returns to Co Loa communal house. Although the road is short, the procession goes very slowly and takes time. Arriving at the temple, the palanquins attend the blessing ceremony before leaving the temple for coming back to their villages.

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