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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Seeking blessings at Bach Hao Pagoda

Text & photos by Ngo Vinh Phu

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Nestled in Hao Xa Village, Thanh Ha District, Hai Duong Province, just 90km from the bustling capital city of Hanoi, Bach Hao Pagoda boasts a rich history dating back to the Ly Dynasty in 1011. Surrounded by serene river scenery, this sacred site was designated as a National Monument in 1993, with its annual festival officially recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2015.

The Bach Hao Pagoda Festival, observed from the 4th to the 6th days of the first lunar month each year, serves as a heartfelt expression of gratitude to the pagoda’s founders. Festivities commence with the solemn incense offering ceremony and the grand palanquin procession of the pagoda’s deities. The event then transitions into a jubilant celebration featuring traditional folk music performances and various sporting competitions cherished by the local villagers. From exhilarating boat races to the spirited rice cooking contest conducted atop floating vessels, and even the thrilling duck-catching competition, every activity is imbued with a sense of camaraderie and community spirit.

The festival is a cherished opportunity for villagers to reunite after a year of diligent work, coming together to usher in the new year with hopes for favorable weather and prosperous business endeavors.

Preparation for the incense offering ceremony
Colorful parade featuring drums and gongs
Local children joyfully participate in the festive parade and performances
Local children joyfully participate in the festive parade and performances
The majestic palanquin procession
Eager participants engage in spirited boat races, captivating the crowd’s attention
Eager participants engage in spirited boat races, captivating the crowd’s attention
Men partake in the lively rice cooking competition, braving vigorous water splashes from opponents—a highlight of the festival
Men partake in the lively rice cooking competition, braving vigorous water splashes from opponents—a highlight of the festival
Men partake in the lively rice cooking competition, braving vigorous water splashes from opponents—a highlight of the festival
Women’s teams fiercely compete in their own contests
Women’s teams fiercely compete in their own contests
The excitement of the duck-catching competition fills the air

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