Thang Tam Temple is located on Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Thang Tam ward, Vung Tau City, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Legend says during 1802-1820 period, King Gia Long assigned three boats to Vung Tau to protect and control Ghenh Rai Bay, and Can Gio seaport. In 1822, as there were no robberies of invaders, King Minh Mang dissolved these units and awarded them with the well-protected land. They were also tax-exempted. The three leaders of three boats changed the wasteland into cultivated areas and made them into 3 villages: Thang Nhat (First Thang), Thang Nhi (Second Thang) and Thang Tam (Third Thang). Pham Van Dinh managed First Thang village. Le Van Loc controlled Second Thang. Ngo Van Huyen directed Third Thang. After the three officials had passed away, King Minh Mang conferred gods on them and assigned 3 villages together to establish a temple to worship them.
Every year Thang Tam organizes the festival for four days, February 17-20 on the lunar calendar. This is the ceremony praying for peace, the time finishing and starting for a season harvesting shrimps and fish. The ceremony happens according to traditional way:
-Khai Quang Ceremony (The ceremony asking the gods for permission to clean god statues).
-Tuc Yet Ceremony (The ceremony inviting the gods to come back to witness the festival).
-Xay Chau Ceremony (The ceremony performing ancient opera).
-Major Ceremony (The most important offering ceremony of the ceremonies).
The offerings are according to yesteryear, especially, the pigs for offering must have the same color. The people having mourning must not participate in the ceremony. Besides the ceremony, there are many relaxed activities such as lion dancing, dragon dancing, hat bo (a kind of ancient opera) performing. The festival has thousands of attending people including visitors. It happens in both solemn and exciting atmosphere. Thang Tam Temple Festival shows the gratitude of the people in Ba Ria-Vung Tau to the gods who had the merit in the period of protecting and building villages. It also shows peaceful and comfortable wish of the people here.
Thang Tam Temple Festival is one of the most famous traditional folk festivals in Southeast Vietnam. If you have a chance to travel to Ba Ria-Vung Tau in mix-February on the lunar calendar, do not this festival.