Hanoi: Thay Pagoda Festival to Take Place This Month

Visitors to the Thay Pagoda Festival, scheduled for April 12-16, can partake in sacred rituals and vibrant traditional folk games.


Numerous cultural activities will be held in the district in mid-April to commemorate the recognition of the Thay Pagoda Festival as a national intangible heritage, including the Thay Pagoda Festival and the Quoc Oai District 2024 Culture Tourism and Trade Promotion Week.

The Thay Pagoda Festival takes place on April 12-16. Photos: Huy Pham/The Hanoi Times

This series of cultural events begins with the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Certification Ceremony for the Thay Pagoda Traditional Festival. The event will feature a vibrant art show with the theme “Unlocking the Heritages of Quoc Oai District”, combining a modern light and sound performance with Vietnamese folk arts.

Situated in Sai Son Commune, Quoc Oai District, roughly 20 kilometers from downtown Hanoi, Thay Pagoda is a unique national relic that rests serenely in the misty haze atop the magnificent Mt. Sai.

Every year, from the fifth to the seventh day of the third lunar month (from April 12 to 16), the Thay Pagoda Festival, the grandest festival in ancient times in “Xu Doai” (the sacred land with abundant cultural values) in Son Tay Town, is celebrated in honor of Tu Dao Hanh, a revered Vietnamese Buddhist monk who lived during the Ly dynasty (1010-1225).

The Statue Bathing Ritual at the Thay Pagoda Festival.

The festival comprises ceremonies and folk performances showcasing a wide array of ancient worship rituals handed down through generations. The festival’s highlight is the Moc Duc, or Statue Bath Ritual, which occurs on the festival’s main day (the seventh day of the third month in the lunar calendar). The ritual is carried out by the area’s respected elders as a symbol of the villagers’ reverence for the monk Tu Dao Hanh.

Master Tu Dao Hanh, as the locals addressed him, was also a healer and mystic who treated the impoverished sick without seeking payment. He imparted to the villagers the skills of cultivation and the art of water puppetry, which has become an integral part of Vietnamese culture.

Meanwhile, villagers from the four hamlets of Da Phuc, Thuy Kue, Sai Khe, and Khanh Tan in Sai Son commune perform the palanquin procession ceremony, which begins from the courtyard of Thay Pagoda and traverses all four hamlets.

Thuy Dinh, or Water Temple, in Thay Pagoda of Quoc Oai District, Hanoi.

Attendees of the Thay Pagoda Festival will have the opportunity to experience captivating water puppet shows depicting the locals’ daily life and work; participate in traditional games such as human chess, swinging, blindfolded pot banging, and tug-of-war; and enjoy traditional cultural and artistic performances, including the UNESCO-recognized quan ho, or love duet singing.

Additionally, the 2024 Quoc Oai District Culture-Tourism and Trade Promotion Week will take place at the Thay Pagoda, featuring 150 booths showcasing and promoting culture, tourism, culinary delicacies, and handicraft village products for visitors.

Visitors can also immerse themselves in “The Quintessence of Tonkin” art show – an enchanting fusion of water puppetry, live performances, traditional music, and light shows.

According to Nguyen Truong Son, Chairman of Quoc Oai District People’s Committee, the series of cultural events aims to honor cultural values and the traditional Thay Pagoda Festival, establish Quoc Oai’s image as a “safe – friendly – quality – attractive” tourist destination, and stimulate the local tourism industry.