Legend says that once upon a time, in An Trach village, suddenly coming up a mound as a gong. Anybody stepped on it, the sound broadcasting. This phenomenon gradually disappeared. Khmer people thought that was a supernatural power, so they established the temple to worship. Every year, people in An Trach village (Chau Thanh, Soc Trang) hold That-Kon Festival (in Khmer language That-Kon means gong stepping). This festival is also called Coconut Offering Festival because the offerings in the festival are mainly coconuts. The festival happens on March 15-17 of the lunar calendar in Mahasalp Thatmon.
The Coconut Offering Festival aims to pray for having a good harvest and peaceful life. Flowers vases are made of Coconuts cut mouths. These are fruits having pure, cool and sweet. Besides coconuts, people offer arecas, lotuses, incenses, lights and so on. All are typical for purity and holiness.
Each family usually brings 1 or 2 pairs of coconuts, but some families bring 7-8 pairs. Most of the offerings have 5 kinds symbolizing 5 Bodhisattvas. 2 sides in front of pagoda have many stalls buying incenses, lights, lotuses, especially the flower vases made of coconuts. A pair costs about 20,000 VND. Consumers buy busily.
The nights of The Coconut offering festival are ones that people do not sleep. Handsome boys and beautiful girls of Viet, Khmer, and Chinese have a chance to make friends. Behind the campus of the pagoda, there is a stage for the group of Khmer folk art performing.
In addition, there are so many apartment stores of games. They attract boys, girls, and children. Inside the pagoda, local monk groups read a prayer to ask for peace. All occur in the atmosphere both solemn and busy.
Coconut Offering Festival attracts the visitors of other provinces, even Cambodia. Coconut Offering Festival happens on March 15, 16 and 17 of lunar calendar yearly. After the festival, all coconuts are arranged into a mountain inside the pagoda. At that time, people carry out final ceremony having agricultural character. The pagoda managers gather cereals put on the worshiping platforms and take some ash from incense-burners. All are put on a silver tray. The person brings the tray goes first and the women go behind. They go to a field to offer land god praying for a good crop. After that, they sprinkle cereals, ash and incense feet on the field.
Coconut Offering Festival is one of the most famous festivals in Mekong Delta. If you have a chance to come to Soc Trang in the mid of March of the lunar calendar, do not forget this festival.
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