“Dù ai đi ngược về xuôi,
Nhớ ngày giỗ tổ mùng mười tháng ba.”
(“Anybody goes anywhere.
Remember the ancestor anniversary day-The lunar tenth of third month”)
The ancestor here means Hung kings, the first kings having effort in building Vietnam country four thousand years ago. The above folk-song shows importance level of Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings. Who are Hung kings? When did the first anniversary start? How does the anniversary usually happen?
To know clearly about Hung kings, firstly, we need find out the beginning history of Vietnamese people. Vietnamese people have an interesting legend talking about their origin. That is “Con rồng cháu tiên” (The children of dragon, grandparents of fairy) legend.
The legend says that Lac Long Quan who is of dragon descent gets married Au Co who is of fairy descent. Au Co gives birth to a bag in which there are one hundred eggs , which open out one hundred children. After that, fifty children follow mother, go up mountains, and fifty children follow father, go down the sea because the mother is fairy descent and the father is dragon descent, they cannot live together long. The fifty children on mountains give birth to Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and the fifty children in the sea give birth to Kinh people. The first son following the father goes down the sea has the position as a king called the first Hung king. After that, there are seventeen Hung kings. Therefore, there are eighteen Hung kings in total. They build Vietnam country more and more strongly. Hung king dynasty is the real dynasty in the history of Vietnam.
After Hung king dynasty, every year Vietnamese people celebrate Death anniversary of the Hung Kings. This is the death anniversary general for Hung kings. The statue built now is symbol image of all Hung kings.
Vietnamese feudal dynasties-Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran, Le, Nguyen confirm Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings is national celebration (Dinh dynasty begins from 968 and Nguyen dynasty finishes in 1945).
After 1945, the governments in North Vietnam and South Vietnam also conform Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings is national celebration.
In 1975 the peace is set up, the present Vietnamese government is still the same view like previous dynasty.
At present, on the lunar tenth of third month, everybody in Vietnam is followed to be off work and the government celebrates solemnly the day in the Hung Temple history remain area. Perhaps, we also need to know generally about this place.
In front of us is the gate leading up the Hung Temple history remain area. On the gate, there are four Chinese words, which mean go on a pilgrimage in a high mountain.
The Hung Temple gate
In the Hung Temple history remain area, there are four main temples as follow:
Den Ha (Below Temple), where Au Co mother gives birth to one hundred eggs which open out one hundred children.
Den Trung (Middle Temple), where Hung kings and the officials discuss national things.
Den Thuong (Above Temple), where Hung kings celebrate to pray gods to help Vietnamese people in farming. On the gate, there are four Chinese words, which mean the ancestor of people Vietnamese.
Den Gieng (Well Temple), where the two princesses of the Eighteenth Hung King look at themselves in the mirror and comb hair.
Now we will discover the festival. The festival happens on the lunar tenth of third month, but it really happens some weeks before with customs like beating bronze drum, going on a pilgrimage to remember Hung kings, and finishes on the tenth with the welcome palanquin ceremony and the incense offering ceremony. Following we discover these two ceremonies.
The welcome palanquin ceremony: Many people with many colorful flags, flowers, parasols, palanquins and traditional clothing appear from the mountain foot, in turn pass temples to come to Den Thuong, where the incense offering ceremony is celebrated.
The welcome palanquin ceremony
The incense offering ceremony: The ceremony happens very solemnly with offering incenses, alcohol and reading the eulogy about the merit of Hung kings. The sound of drum and bell makes ceremony atmosphere more mysterious and supernatural.
The incense offering ceremony
Besides the ceremony part, there are competitions such as hat xoan (teasing singing), a special folk-song form in Phu Tho province, wrestle, tug of war, swimming in Bach Hat River, where Hung kings train sailors.
Hat Xoan performance
Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings mainly happens at the Hung Temple history remain area. However, on the lunar ten of third month all villages, towns in Vietnam hold the festival in village temples. Vietnamese people outside the country also gather and celebrate the death anniversary.
Celebrating Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings of Vietnamese people shows thankful heart of Vietnamese to Hung kings, the first kings having effort in building Vietnam country. It also shows union spirit and national love of Vietnamese people.