The village streets and dusty alleys of Phu Tho, a rural province in the mountains north of Hanoi, are merry and alive with the energy of celebration.
Traditional folk music, lion dances, Xoan folk songs and banh chung making contests, can be seen and heard everywhere. Banh chung is a kind of square and savory glutinous rice cake, the staple of many traditional Vietnamese celebrations.
Ten thousands of domestic and foreign visitors flock to the Hung Kings temple festival between April 14-20. (Photo:SGGP)
The buzz is thanks to the Hung Temple Festival, a 10-day death anniversary celebration that begins annually on the 1st day of the third lunar month (April 14 this year) to remember the Hung Kings, who according to legend founded and ruled Vietnam beginning about 4,000 years ago.
The Hung Kings were said to have been born in Phu Tho and every year, millions of have gather in the province for the extraordinary event, which includes both celebratory parties and solemn ceremonies.
According to Nguyen Tien Khoi, Director of the Hung King Temple Management Board, the number of visitors to this year’s Hung Kings Temple Festival has increased sharply over the past five days. An estimated 5-5.5 million visitors flocked to the Hung King Temple festival between April 14-20, an increase of 30 percent over the same period during last year’s event.
The Hung Kings Temple Festival has been held annually since it was begun in 1460 by King Le Thanh Tong to commemorate the 18 Hung Kings who founded the country and ushered in what has become known as the golden age of Vietnamese history.
Since then, the Hung Kings Temple Festival has become a symbol of national unity and spirit and is a chance for Vietnamese people both at home and overseas to express their gratitude to their ancestors.
The anniversary of the death of the Hung Kings, which falls on the 1st day of the third lunar month, was officially recognised as a national celebration in 2000 and in the National Assembly approved a regulation making it a national holiday in 2007.
The Hung Kings Temple is located on Nghia Linh Mountain, Phong Chau district, in Phu Tho province, 100 km northwest of Hanoi. The temple includes a complex of ancient tombs, monuments and temples.
Notably, the Lower Temple, a popular tourist destination, is where Au Co, the mythical mother of all Vietnamese people, gave birth to a sack containing 100 eggs from which 100 babies were born, according to the local legend. The eldest son, Hung Vuong, named himself king and the throne was passed down over 18 generations.
On April 22, the Hung King Temple Management Board held a ceremony to cerebrate Lac Long Quan and Au Co, who are believed to be the father and mother of Vietnamese people, at Lac Long Quan and Au Co Temple.
Later that same day, Deputy Chairman of the Phu Tho Province People’s Committee Nguyen Ngoc Hai met with an oversea Vietnamese delegation including 44 people from 14 countries. The delegation donated US$1,842 and 100 euro to the province’s Study Encouragement Association.