King Hung Temple Festival takes place yearly at King Hung Temple from the 8th to 11th day of the third lunar month in the year. According to the legend, the 10th day of that month is the death anniversary of King Hung. During the festival, Vietnamese people from all over the country as well as Vietnamese people living abroad head for King Hung Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain, Phu Tho Province to take part in this historical and meaningful festival.
The festival is featured with many folk games such as “danh du” (bamboo swings), “nem con” (game of throwing a sacred ball through the ring), rice cooking competitions, lion dance, human chess, water puppet performance, wrestling, crossbow shooting, etc. All folk games contribute a bustling ambiance to the festival and attract participation of various people. Besides, “xoan” singing and “gheo” singing are also performed at the festival by local residents. Coming to the festival, tourists can enjoy these unique art performances, which were recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, on stage.
On the 10th day, the spotlight is on bronze drum performance and competition of procession with participation of about 40 villages. After that, a solemn national ceremony is held with incense-offering liturgy. Governmental leaders will lead the procession up to Upper Temple (“Den Thuong”) – the highest temple of King Hung Temple Complex on Nghia Linh Mountain. Sacrifice involves five-fruit trays, specialties from all regions in the country and indispensably a couple of “chung” cakes and “day” cakes, which are two traditional foods of Vietnam. Legend has it that King Hung VI chose the next king by asking each of his princes to offer him a dish and he would give the throne to the son who could satisfy him. The 18th prince named Lang Lieu offered the King with “chung” cake and “day” cake. Lang Lieu explained to King Hung that “chung” cake has the shape of square and symbolizes the Earth; “day” cake has the shape of circle and represents the Sky. Both cakes are made from rice, which is the major agricultural product in Vietnam, with green bean paste inside. This arrangement refers to close relationship between parents and children. Impressed by those cakes, King Hung VI decided to declare Lang Lieu as the next King of Van Lang (the former Vietnam in 7th century BC). Since then, “chung” cake and “day” cake have become traditional dishes of Vietnam.
Joining the pilgrimage to ancestral land of King Hung Temple on these days has become a beautiful tradition of Vietnamese people.