Worshipping Hung Kings – an intangible heritage of Vietnam
Annually, thousands of people from around Vietnam gather at Hung Temple at Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho, some 85km northwest of Hanoi, to remember their ancestors and pray for good weather, abundant harvest, good luck, and good health. In 2012, the practice was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
According to Hung kings narrative, Lac Long Quan and Au Co are the Vietnamese ancestors and parents of Hung Kings. The first government of Vietnam was called Van Lang and led by 18 Hung Kings. However, many historians argue that there were not exactly 18 different leaders, but rather 18 faculties that were governed by multiple leaders with the same name.
Hung Kings played important roles in building Vietnam and protecting ancient Vietnamese against invaders. These accomplishments have been proven by artifacts from the past, confirming the long history of Vietnam. Therefore, generations of Vietnamese have always looked up to Hung Kings. The tradition of worshipping these figures goes as far as the Tran Dynasty, around 1470.
In addition to the Hung Temple at Nghia Linh, there are 183 sites that worship Hung Kings. On March 10th in the lunar calendar, all of them will organize the ceremony at the same time.
Activities during Hung King's Festival
If you want fully experience this holiday, you must visit Hung Temple as it is the main destination. This year's festival is hosted by the People's Committee of Phu Tho Province, with the theme “Linh thiêng nguồn cội, đất tổ Hùng Vương" (The sacred origin of Hung Kings' land). Every year, the activities are divided into two parts: the ceremony and the festival.
The ceremony comprises different activities (with dates based on the lunar calendar) such as the commemoration ceremony of Lac Long Quan and the thurification ceremony of Au Co on March 6; the incense offering ceremony in memory of the Hung Kings on March 10; the flower offering ceremony at Uncle Ho's relief talking with soldiers of the Pioneer Army, along with the incense offering ceremonies at relics worshiping Hung Kings.
The festival consists of 12 traditional activities, ranging from verbal and folk art performances like Xoan singing, bronze drum beating, and water puppets to historical exhibitions in the spirit of the anniversary. On April 4, Hung Temple will host a sticky rice cake competition that hopes to attract various tourists.
Just a safety reminder for everyone commemorating this special occasion amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the government advises the proper wearing of masks and social distancing.