|Huong Pagoda Festival in the opening day|
The Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival opened yesterday, the sixth day of the lunar New Year, in the northern province of Ha Tay. This year, infrastructures in and around the Huong Pagoda have been restored and repaired to overcome congestion that beset the festival in previous years.
The most sacred Buddhist festivals in Viet Nam will conclude, this year, at the end of the third lunar month (May 15) and is expected to attract tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the nation to participate in a pilgrimage set in the most stunning landscape.
Functional bodies and authorities of the northern Ha Tay province reported that they have carried out a large number of projects this year with a total investment capital of more than VND80 billion to build, upgrade and expand the Huong Pagoda relic site and surrounding areas in a bid to ease congestion which occurred in previous years.
Pilgrims and visitors to the Huong Pagoda Festival
The Huong Pagoda's superior monks itself contributed VND3 billion to expanding the path from Yen pier to Thien Tru pagoda. The walkway now has three lanes, including one for the disabled.
The authorities also expanded the Thien Tru Pagoda’s ground by nearly 20 meters. In particular, the walkway from the Thien Tru pagoda to the suspending cable station No.1 was widened by over 6 meters to reduce congestion for thousands of pilgrims and tourists. The path from the suspending cable station No.3 to Quan Am Kieu bridge near Huong Tich cave was also upgraded.
Apart from developing the infrastructure at the relic site, the organizing committee have dredged the Yen stream, upgraded the pathways to Long Van, Tuyet Son and Yen pier, as well as planted trees along the Yen pier. They have also introduced 12 new cable cars, bringing the total number of cable cars to 45, in order to keep everything running smoothly.
Of course, there still remained certain negative practices like overcharging visitors and some congestion. However, it was a remarkable effort by the local authorities and relevant services to make visiting the Huong Pagoda during the festival much easier and more enjoyable for visiting pilgrims and tourists.
The Story of the Huong Pagoda Festival
According to a Buddhist anecdote, in early A.D, the goddess of Mercy was reincarnated as princesses Dieu Thien, who led a religious life and reached the peak of the Way. Legends said that she was reincarnated on the 19th day of the second lunar month, and so the Vietnamese Buddhists consider this day as a saint day. However, it was only in 1687 that a Buddhist monk named Tran Dao Vien Quang took over the pagoda and persuaded people to hold the annual Buddhism Day celebration on the 19th day of the second lunar month.
Every year, the rituals for "opening the gate of woods" are held on the 6th day of the first lunar month at Ngu Nhac temple, the gateway to Huong pagoda. Since the year of the Monkey in 1896, the Huong Pagoda Festival has officially been held over the entire second lunar month ever year. And since then, thanks to the admirable beauty of nature as well as the wonders of the place, more and more visitors and religious people come to worship and enjoy the landscape.