In Vietnam, in annual January of the lunar calendar, there are many festivals happening of which the festival considered as the most meaningful is the festival of Kinh Dương Vương, the first father of Vietnamese people. Learning about Vietnamese culture, we cannot ignore Kinh Duong Vuong Festival in Bac Ninh, Vietnam.
Who is Kinh Duong Vuong (Kinh Dương Vương)?
According to Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư (The history book is compiled by the famous historian in the fifteenth named Ngô Sĩ Liên in the 15th century), Đế Minh, a great-grandchild of King Thần Nông, one day went on a trip to the South. When arriving at Ngũ Lĩnh mountain (now in Hunan province, China), he met a fairy, married, gave birth to a child named Lộc Tục. After that Đế Minh passed the throne to his eldest son Đế Nghi, who became the king of the North (from Ngũ Lĩnh mountain to the north). Đế Minh let Lộc Tục do as the king of the South (from Ngũ Lĩnh mountain to the south); the king name is Kinh Dương Vương; the state name is Xích Quỹ. Kinh Dương Vương became a king of Xích Qủy state in the year of Nhâm Tuất, in 2879 BC. He married the daughter of Động Đình Hồ Quân (also known as Thần Long) named Long Nữ. Long Nữ gave birth to Sùng Lãm, who continued the throne with the king name as Lạc Long Quân. Lac Long Quan married Âu Cơ (a fairy in the North), gave birth to one hundred children. One day, Lạc Long Quân told Âu Cơ that: “I am dragon kind; you are fairy kind; the water and fire clashes together, so they are difficult to combine.” Then they separated from each other, 50 children following their mother to the mountain, 50 children following their father to the sea. Lạc Long Quân let the eldest do as a king with the name Hùng Vương. Kinh Dương Vương died on January 18 of the lunar calendar at Phúc Khang, Vũ Ninh (now belonging to Á Lữ village, Đại Đồng Thành commune, Thuận Thành district, Bắc Ninh province). Kinh people (Việt people) believe that King Kinh Dương Vương is their first father.
Temple and Tomb of Kinh Duong Vuong
Mr. Biện Xuân Phẩm, the manager of Kinh Dương Vương temple said, “Seeing that the land here was fertile; the landscape was lush; the atmosphere was peaceful; the people were honest, after transmitting the throne to Lạc Long Quân, King Kinh Dương Vương chose this place as a resting place, building his own tomb and temple”.
Throughout its existence, the tomb and temple of Kinh Dương Vương have been restored and embellished many times. However, it is only found in historical records that in the 21st year of King Minh Mạng (1840) the tomb was restored and put a headstone with four words: “Kinh Dương Vương Lăng” to express the homage and remembrance to the first father of Việt people.
In 1993, the tomb and temple area of Kinh Dương Vương was recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Information as a national historical and cultural relic. In 2013, the People’s Committee of Bac Ninh Province approved the capital of nearly VND 500 billion to renovate, embellish the tomb and temple and built many other items in relic area.
Currently, Kinh Dương Vương’s tomb area covers an area of 31.8 hectares. The front is opposite to Đuống river. Four sides are green trees, cool shade. The entrance is 4 tall stone pillars with parallel sentences. The inside was a large yard tiled with square flat bricks. Next, in the middle is King Kinh Dương Vương’s tomb. Especially in the tomb, there is a stele with the words “Kinh Dương Vương Lăng” engraved in 1840 during the reign of King Minh Mang. On the left of the tomb is Tả Văn Temple, on the right is Hữu Võ Temple. In addition, there are other works to serve visitors.
Kinh Dương Vương temple is located about 2 kilometers away from the tomb. The temple has an area of 4.2 hectares. In front of the temple is an ancient three-entrance gate having pillars with parallel sentences. The inside is a fairly large yard used to serve the ceremony. Behind the yard is Kinh Dương Vương temple with East Asian architecture, curved roof red tile. The temple consists of 3 spaces. The middle space is to worship King Kinh Dương Vương; the left side is to worship Lạc Long Quân; the right side is to worship Âu Cơ. The temple is decorated with very solemn ancient things. Especially, the temple still saves 15 texts of kings under the Nguyen Dynasty in order to praise the merit of King Kinh Dương Vương.
Kinh Duong Vuong Festival in Bac Ninh
For a long time, on January 18 (lunar calendar), villagers of Á Lữ and the surrounding village have held Kinh Dương Vương festival to commemorate King Kinh Dương Vương, who is the first father of Việt people, King Lạc Long Quân, and Queen Âu Cơ. Today, in a peaceful country situation, the festival is very well organized.
Ceremonies at the festival
There are 2 main ceremonies: incense offering and procession:
– The incense offering ceremony is held at the temple. This ceremony usually has high-ranking state officials such as the president, prime minister attending. The highlight of the ceremony is the Chúc Văn reading section (Chúc Văn is the ancient kind of literature having parallel sentences used on festival occasions in the village communal temples). The Chúc Văn is read with a powerful voice. It expresses the gratitude to King Kinh Dương Vương, the first father of Kinh (Việt) people. The incense offering is equally important. The incense sticks are offered with respectful faces, remembering the source.
– The procession goes from Kinh Dương Vương temple to the tomb. The procession group is in the order: young men and women in colorful costumes holding flags, fans, a classical music band, a big drum, 3 palanquins (one for Kinh Dương Vương, one for Lạc Long Quân, one for Âu Cơ), dignitaries of the temple, the elderly and the other people. The procession forms a line longer than a kilometer with melodious rhythmic music and the sound of the drum and gong clanging. At the tomb of Kinh Dương Vương takes place the solemn ceremony. After the ceremony, the procession returns to the temple.
Sports and activities
In addition to the ceremonies, there are many singing and sports activities taking place at both the tomb and the temple during the festival. Those are wrestling, boat racing, swinging, volleyball, folk song singing, and so on. Activities have a large number of people joining and watching, especially the youths and children. These activities contribute to creating a joyful atmosphere for the festival, encourage the movement to train the health of the young.