Hanoi (VNA) – The Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival officially opened in
Gia Vien district in the northern province of Ninh Binh on February 21 (the
sixth day of the first lunar month), with the attendance of Deputy Prime
Minister Vu Duc Dam.

Delegates, Buddhist dignitaries and
followers, and visitors offered incense and prayed for a peaceful new year.

The original 1,000 year-old Bai Dinh Pagoda
(Bai Dinh Co Tu) is part of the Trang An Landscape Complex which was recognised
as a world Cultural and Natural Heritage Site by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The pagoda is composed of temples
worshipping Buddha, the Mountain God, and the Mother Goddess of the Forest. It
lies about 800 metres from the Tam The Temple of the new Bai Dinh Pagoda area.

The recent additions are considered the
largest Buddhist temple complex in Vietnam and currently hold several national
record-setting relics, including the largest bronze Buddha statue (150 tonnes),
the largest bronze bell (30 tonnes), and the largest number of Arhat statues

The pagoda festival will last until the end
of March.


The same day, a ceremony was held at Huong
Pagoda in Hanoi’s My Duc district to kick off the pagoda festival and receive a
certificate recognising the Huong Son (Huong Pagoda) landscape and historical
site complex as a special national relic site.

Nguyen Chi Thanh, head of the relic site’s
management board, said that around 40,000 people visit Huong Pagoda on the
first day of the festival.

During the lunar New Year (Tet) holiday,
the pagoda welcomed 200,000 tourist arrivals, he added.

The Giong festival, recognised as part of
the World Intangible Heritage, also opened in Hanoi’s Soc Son Temple on the
sixth day of the first lunar month.


It will remain open to visitors until the
eighth day of the first lunar month.

The festival celebrates Saint Giong, a
legendary Vietnamese hero who fought against the northern invaders.

The legend says that once upon a time, a
poor woman from Giong Village went to the rice paddy and saw a giant step.
Curious, she stepped onto the step; not long after, she discovered she was
pregnant and then gave birth to a son she named Giong. As a three-year old, the
boy still didn’t know how to speak and never laughed. But when the country was
invaded, the boy suddenly began to speak and asked the King to give him an iron
horse, an iron suit of armour and an iron rod, so that he could fight against
the invaders. He then rose up to become a giant.

After having fought triumphantly the enemy,
he and his horse went to Soc Mountain. On the mountain top, he removed his
armour and flew onto the sky on his horse.

This festival is considered one more
testament to the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese nation when pitted
against foreign invaders.-VNA