|Pilgrims offer incense to General Tran Hung Dao. (Photo: VNA)
Thousands of local residents and tourists attend the event to learn about Vietnam’s culture and history.
Two festivals are held each year at the Con Son-Kiep Bac relic site – one in the spring and one on the autumn.
The autumn festival commemorates the death anniversary of 13th century national hero General Tran Hung Dao, who led Vietnam to victories over Mongol invaders, and the death anniversary of 15th century national hero and strategist Nguyen Trai.
Since 2006, the festival has reenacted all the original rituals and performances and become a major spiritual event in Hai Duong province.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Lien described the rituals: “An incense offering occurs on the 10th day of the eighth lunar month at Van and Kiep village, whose villagers worship General Tran Hung Dao and ask for his permission to start the autumn festival. Pilgrims are welcomed to pay tribute to the General on the 15th day. An official opening ceremony follows a day later at the Con Son-Kiep Bac relic site with another incense offering ritual.”
The Luc Dau river is the main venue for festival activities. It was the strategic waterway connecting the Red River and Bach Dang river where the Tran Kings set up their military bases to train soldiers. According to Mrs. Lien, the festival’s highlight is the reenactment of a battle in which the Tran Dynasty army defeated the Mongol invaders in the 13th century.
“A boat procession on the Luc Dau River re-enacts the battle between the Tran army and the Mongols on the 17th day of the eighth lunar month. This is the most important ritual of the Con Son-Kiep Bac Autumn Festival, which honors General Tran Hung Dao – a talented leader and the ancestor of Vietnam’s naval forces. Fishermen from all over Vietnam gather here to pray for favorable weather and a plentiful catch,” Mrs. Lien said.
|The boat procession on the Luc Dau river
The boat procession this year lasted more than an hour. There were 60 boats and 1,000 participants. Visitors enjoyed the colorful flags and boats, sound of the echoing drums and chants, and martial arts performances.
Vu Quang Phuong, a tourist from Hanoi, said, “This is the second time I’ve been to the Con Son-Kiep Bac Autumn Festival. It was more exciting this time than last time. The festive activities, which demonstrated the lessons of national defense that I have learned since I was small, stirred my sense of pride. I bring me children with me to the festival so they can learn about Vietnam’s history.”
Other activities of the Con Son-Kiep Bac Autumn Festival include folk singing, boat racing, water puppet shows, a lantern parade, and sports.