12/04/2017 17:12 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Phu Day Festival

A Vietnamese saying goes “Thang Tam gio Cha, thang Ba gioMe” (the Father’s Death Anniversary Falls in the Eighth Moon and the Mother’s in the Third Moon).  This shows gratitude respectively to “Duc Thanh Tran” (Saint Tran) and “Thanh Mau Lieu Hanh” (Mother Saint Lieu Hanh) as the Vietnamese thousands of year-old religious philosophy says “uong nuoc nho nguon” (remember its source when drinking water).
The Mother Goddesses religion, considered to be Vietnam’s oldest religion, is rising in popularity andthe city of Nam Dinh is considered its heart with some 400 Mother Goddesses worship locations. Phu Day is the focal point of this belief. 
 

The main temple of Tien Huong looks brilliant during the night of a torchlight procession.
It is the centre for activities during the Phu Day festival. Photo: Tat Son


At the torchlight procession. Photo: Tat Son 

The torchlight procession is held with the aim of bringing people belief
and hope for a happy and prosperous life. Photo: Cong Dat

Medium Tran Thi Kim Hue during the torchlight procession. Photo: Cong Dat

 Phu Day is splendidly decorated with flags and flowers. Photo: Cong Khanh

 Balloon shaped dragons, symbolising three Mother Goddesses, are released into the sky. Photo: Tat Son.

Pilgrims worship at the main temple of Tien Huong. Photo: Tat Son

The procession of the Mother Goddess’s palanquin is led by a Most Venerable and 12 monks. Photo: Cong Dat

The palanquin procession of Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh
starts from Tien Huong temple to Tien Huong pagoda. Photo: Cong Dat

The procession of Mau De Nhi (the second Mother who looks after the forest and mountain region,
the main living habitat of various ethnic minorities). Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The procession of Mau De Tam (the third Mother who takes care of the rivers and water region,
giving benefits for water-rice growing and fishing). Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The procession of Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The procession attracts a large number of locals and tourists. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The procession from Tien Huong temple to Tien Huong pagoda. Photo: Cong Khanh

The procession at Tien Huong pagoda. Photo: Tat Son

The procession of Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh at Tien Huong pagoda. Photo: Tat Son

Offerings at Phu Day Festival. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The procession returns to Tien Huong temple. Photo: Cong Dat

The Phu Day festival is organisedfrom March 3-8 of the lunar calendar, honouring Mother Saint Lieu Hanh, the head deity in the Worship of Mother Goddesses. Mother Saint Lieu Hanh was worshiped in various localities, but the Phu Day festival is the biggest and most original. The festival lasts many days with diversified activitiesand “Hat van” or “Hau dong” (chant singing and trancing) is the most prominent.They are rituals with deep colours of esoteric spirits culture, which creates the distinctiveness and strong vitality of this special belief. The Phu Day festival is an important component of a great Lieu Hanh historical chorus. This shows that Phu Day is the centre of the Heritage of Worship of Mother Goddesses.
Tam Phu in the Mother Goddess Worship belief corresponds to three different regions in the universe, namely “Thienphu” (the Heaven region), “Nhac phu” (the forest and mountain region) and “Thoai phu” (the river and water region). Each region is headed by a mother saint, including “Mau Thuong Thien” (the first Mother) managing the firmament and mastering supernatural powers such as clouds and rain, wind and storms, thunder and lightning; “Mau Thuong Ngan” (the second Mother), looking after the forest and mountain region, the main living habitat of various ethnic minorities, and “Mau Thoai” (the third Mother), taking care of the rivers and water region, giving benefits for water rice growing and fishing.
 
Phu Day is a complex of traditional religious architecturein Kim Thai village, Vu Ban district in the northern province of Nam Dinh.Among 21 architectural works of Phu Day complex, three are closely related to Mother Saint Lieu Hanh, including Tien Huong temple (the principal one), Van Cat temple and Lieu Goddess shrine.

During the festival, thousands of people, including locals and tourists travel to Phu Day to pray for happiness, health and prosperity. The six-day festival features numerous traditional rituals, cultural  activities and folk games, such as Chau van performances, lion and dragon dances, arts performances at Cay Da Bong temple, a “co nguoi” (human chess) competition and wrestling.

One of the highlights of the festival is a procession of the Mother Goddess’s palanquin and a torchlight procession at Tien Huong temple.

The torchlight procession is held on the night of March 3 with the aim ofgiving people the belief and hope for a happy and prosperous life. The procession starts with a torch lit at Tien Huong temple and then another 1,000 torches which are processed by the locals around Phu Day.The procession of the Mother Goddess’ palanquin stats from Tien Huong temple to Tien Huong pagoda. During the ritual, three balloonshaped dragons are released into the sky.

Phu Day Festival with its cultural activities related to Mother Goddesses Worship is an official part of theIntangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity recognised by UNESCO.
 
 

 Medium Nguyen Tat Kim Hung perform the ritual of Hau dong,
an extremely special one of the Mother Goddess Worship. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

The festival attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Shapping letters at the festival.  Photo: Nguyen Long Hung

 
By Tat Son, Thanh Giang, Cong Dat, Cong Khanh & Nguyen Long Hung