Every year, when the spring comes, millions of people from all over Vietnam would travel to Ha Noi to take part in one of the country’s most elaborate festivals to welcome the Lunar New Year. Traditionally celebrated from the 6th day of the first month to the end of the third month in reference to the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar, this year’s Huong Pagoda Festival officially opened on February 19, 2010 in the midst of a very favourable weather. A Vietnamese custom, a pilgrimage to Huong Pagoda is said to bring health, prosperity, good luck and happiness. A mix of 600,000 pilgrims and tourists flocked the temple on the first day alone. Known as the longest and largest festival in Vietnam, the main festival days yet will begin on the 15th of the second lunar month and would last on the 20th day of the same month.
Consisting of a chain of temples and shrines, Chùa Hương, otherwise called as Perfume Pagoda, holds a long history of Vietnamese literature apart from being the most popular religious site in the country. This sanctuary is located in Ha Tay province, 70 km southwest of Ha Noi, which normally would require travellers about 2 hours of road trip to get to Ben Duc pier alone. Though the foot of the pagoda complex can be reached by road from the pier, using row boats to cross the Yen Vi river (ca 55000 Dong) is a more popular option for many because of the romantic view and breathtaking scenes that will unfold during the course of the 45-minute boat ride. This year, 4,600 boats will serve the monks, Buddhists and visitors at the Huong Pagoda Festival. The organizing board had given priority to foreigners because of the lack of upgraded boats more preferred by the tourists. And for the first time in the festival’s history, added boats will be launched to carry local artists who will be performing love duets (quan ho)
The Huong Pagoda Festival is an amazing combination of romance, appreciation of nature and devotion to Buddha. The boat trip, sightseeing, mountain climbing, cave visit and religious ceremonies incorporated into one memorable celebration sets it apart from other festivals in the country. The Pagoda’s remarkable beauty and extraordinary landscape is a living proof of the Buddhist architecture harmonizing with nature, giving tourists an opportunity to relax and enjoy a moment of sooth and clam amidst all the noise and energy brought along by spring’s festivities. The Huong Pagoda Festival, in fact, is so well-recognized and has now been submitted for designation of UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.
Source and photos: Vietnam.com