Giong Festival at Phu Dong and Soc temples(Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity)
Giong Festival is a traditional festival in commemoration and praise of
the mythical hero Saint Giong, one of four immortals of Vietnamese folk
The festival vividly
imitates the evolution of fights of Saint Giong and Van Lang people
under the 6th King Hung reign in combating against the foreign enemies,
thereby raising the public awareness about the forms of ancient tribe
war and educating the patriotism, martial art traditions, indomitable
will, and independence and freedom desire of the nation. The Giong
Festival is held in many locations throughout the northern part of Viet
Nam, however the most typical ones are the Giong Festival at Phu Dong
and Soc temples (Ha Noi).
Giong Festival at Soc Temple (Phu
Linh Commune, Soc Son District, Ha Noi) is held annually from the sixth
to the eighth days of the first lunar month. According to the legend,
after defeating the foreign invaders, Soc Mountain in Phu Linh is the
last stopover of the saint before flying to heaven. There are many
traditional rituals during the festival such as procession ceremony,
incense offering ceremony, the ritual of bathing saint’s statue and
bamboo flowers offering ceremony to the Thuong (Upper) Temple where is
dedicated to the Saint Giong.
To prepare for the
festival, at the fifth day night, people from eight villages of six
communes in Soc Son District have carefully prepared offerings to the
saint. On the sixth day - the opening festival day - villagers and
pilgrims make incense offering to the Saint Giong Monument on Mount Da
Chong. And at midnight of the same day, there is the bathing ritual of
Saint Giong’s statue.
On the main festival
day, the seventh day which was the saint’s ascending to heaven day
according to the legend, there is a procession of bamboo flowers to the
Thuong Temple as offerings to the saint. The bamboo flowers are made of a
bamboo pieces that are sharpened into flowers and dyed with various
colors. The worshipped saint embodies the aspiration for a peaceful
country, harmonious rain and wind, and abundant harvest.
During the festival,
there are other traditional games such as Chinese chess, human chess,
cock fighting... and art performances of villagers as traditional opera
(cheo), love duet (quan ho).
Giong Festival at Phu Dong Temple
The Giong Festival at
the Phu Dong Temple is held annually from the sixth to the twelfth days
of the fourth lunar month in the village of Saint Giong’s birth in Phu
Dong Commune, Gia Lam District, Ha Noi.
From the sixth to eighth
days, there are ceremonies of carrying flags to Mau (Mother) Temple
where is dedicated to the Saint Giong’s mother and carrying offerings of
boiled rice and salted egg-plants to Thuong (Upper) Temple where is
dedicated to the Saint Giong.
The main day of the
festival is the ninth of the fourth lunar month. On this day flags are
carried from the Mau Temple to the Thuong Temple to sacrifice to the
saint. In addition, fighting against the Yin invaders is re-enacted. The
battle is elaborately arranged with the roles of Masters (Ong Hieu)
such as the Flag Master, the Drum Master, the Gong Master, the Army
Master, and the Children Master – the generals of Saint Giong troop
which are played by young men and 28 girls play the enemy generals.
On the tenth day, there
are ceremonies of inspecting battlefield and giving offerings to the
Saint Giong. On the eleventh day, the ceremony of cleaning and washing
weapons with holy water takes place. On the twelfth day, a flag
procession goes to announce the victorious news to heaven and earth.
There are also ceremony of giving a feast to the troop and cheo
performances celebrating the victory.
The Giong Festival of Phu Dong and Soc temples recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Global outstanding value
of the Giong Festival is represented as a cultural phenomenon which is
preserved and handed down constantly and integrally over many
generations. The festival also serves as a community link and contains
many creative ideas, expressing the desire for national peace and family
The Giong Festival
satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
The Giong Festival is deeply rooted in the communities of the Red River
Delta as part of their identity, transmitted from generation to
generation and providing them a sense of continuity; -
R2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to
promoting human creativity and dialogue between cultures, while
providing visibility to intangible cultural heritage; -
R3: Diverse and coherent safeguarding measures have been proposed
aiming to preserve, document, transmit, recognize and promote the
continuity of the Giong Festival, benefiting from the commitment of the
communities and the State; - R4: The bearer and practitioner communities were consulted and provided
information for the nomination, as well as their free, prior and
informed consent; - R5: The
Giong Festival is inscribed in an inventory of the intangible cultural
heritage of Viet Nam, maintained by the Viet Nam Institute of Culture
and Art Studies.
The Giong Festival of
Phu Dong and Soc temples has officially been recognized as an intangible
cultural heritage of humanity by the UNESCO since November 2010. UNESCO
has shortly and fully recorded of the Giong Festival as "a Viet Nam
culture museum that keeps many alluvial layers of culture and beliefs."