Huong Pagoda Festival - unique spiritual and cultural destination
Update: Feb 15, 2024
Huong Pagoda Festival, one of the national most important and largest festivals, will officially open on February 15 but since the first days of the Lunar New Year, it has welcomed thousands of pilgrims to pray for good fortune and contemplate.  

The 2024 Huong Pagoda Festival will begin on February 15, the sixth day of the Lunar New Year. It is expected to lure thousands of visitors during its three-month period.

Most Venerable Thich Minh Hien, abbot of the Perfume Pagoda Complex, said that this year the festival took place in three months from February 11 to May 1. The opening ceremony was scheduled on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year.

He said this year a unique art program was prepared for the opening ceremony which included music, songs and performance about Huong Pagoda Complex.

There will be an art exhibition opening with over 50 paintings by artists in Chan Tinh Ashram. The paintings are mainly about landscapes of the pagoda, Huong Son Mountain and Forest, Avalokiteshvara Buddha, and portraits of monks and nuns. In particular, artist Quang Nguyen exhibits a huge 2.2m x 1m painting that depicts a panoramic view of Thien Tru Pagoda.

Most Venerable Hien said in addition to ceremonies to pray for peace for Buddhists and tourists, there would be other events such as the Thuong Nguyen Ceremony or the Full Moon Festival of the first lunar month and the birthday ceremony of Avalokiteshvara.

Most beautiful pagoda

Huong Pagoda is a colloquial term for the Huong Son scenic area. It is a large cultural and religious complex consisting of many pagodas, shrines, and temples.

It will take pilgrims about two to three days to visit all these worship sites which nestle within the limestone mountain.

The majority of these cave temples were constructed during the 17th century, making Huong Pagoda one of Viet Nam's most significant temple complexes.

The pagoda was mostly destroyed during the war against the French in 1947 and was rebuilt later in 1988.

There are different routes that helped pilgrims visit Huong Pagoda Complex but the highlights would be Duc Wharf - Trinh Temple - Thien Tru Pagoda - Giai Oan Pagoda - Huong Tich Cave.

Duc Wharf serves as the pilgrimage's initial beginning point where thousands of boats will shuttle visitors to other stops in the complex.

Trinh Temple, about 300m from Duc Wharf, is the first stop of Huong Pagoda on the one-hour boat ride on the Yen Stream.

The 4km-long tranquil stream is enshrouded by magnificent limestone mountains and verdant fields, and serves as a serene prelude to the vibrant scenes unfolding at the pagoda complex.

At the temple, which honoured a general who played a pivotal role in defending the country against external invaders during the reign of the Hung Kings, pilgrims offer their initial joss sticks to the local deities, informing them of their presence and seeking blessings for a safe and prosperous journey ahead.

The next stop is Thien Tru Pagoda which places at the end of the boat trip. Known as Chua Ngoai (Outer Pagoda), it holds a prominent position within the entire Huong Pagoda Complex and serves as the venue for the Huong Pagoda Festival's opening ceremony.

At this place, visitors can not only worship the Buddha but also admire the architectural style that combines unique design and profound religious significance.

Giai Oan Pagoda situates along the pathway connecting Thien Tru Pagoda and Huong Tich Cave. Here, visitors can admire the ancient architectural style with the statue of Avalokitesvara and learn about the famous story associated with this temple.

The pagoda's main attraction is Giai Oan Stream, which originates from nine different sources. This stream is regarded as a symbol of purification and offers a tranquil and serene ambiance to visitors.

Huong Tich Cave is about 4km from Giai Oan Pagoda. It holds significant importance within the Huong Pagoda Complex and serves as the primary attraction drawing pilgrims from afar.

At an altitude of 390m, visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of the majestic mountains and the beauty of the so-called "Nam Thien De Nhat Dong" or the most beautiful cave in Viet Nam.

Longest festival

The Huong Pagoda Festival, with its inception traces back to the Le-Trinh Dynasty, takes place in Huong Son Commune, My Duc District, which is more than 60km southwest of Ha Noi centre.

Lasting for three months, it is the longest festival of the year in the country, attracting people from across the North to celebrate the spring pilgrimage and immerse in its spiritual and cultural grandeur.

The festival pays homage to Princess Dieu Thien, an enlightened being who practiced Buddhism in Huong Tich Cave.

Legend holds that she safeguarded her family from malevolent forces and also protected the country during times of war.

Besides, the festival offers pilgrims and visitors an opportunity to honor ancestors, show reverence to Mother Nature and worship the Goddess of the Mountains, Sacred Animals, and other spiritual entities.

At the festival people also offer incense, fruits, and pray for happy life, a prosperous and lucky new year.

After the ritual part, it is festive time for lively folk games such as the rice-cooking contest, the tug of war; and cultural activities such as lion dances, boat racing, mountain climbing, cheo (traditional opera singing), hat van (spiritual singing) and others.

Visitors also enjoy various specialties of the Huong Son Forest including lotus seed sweet soup, lotus seed cakes, wild apricots, water spinach, hazelnuts and ginger roots which can be brought home as gifts./.

VGP - - February 14, 2024