A practitioner performs rituals of Mother Goddess Worship.

According to La Thi Lien, vice chairwoman of Van Yen District People’s Committee and also head of the management board of Dong Cuong Temple, the combination of the two festivals this year would create diversified activities for visitors nationwide to experience original local cultures.

“The event aims to promote the image of the national cultural and historical relic of Dong Cuong Temple to both domestic and international tourists, and therefore preserve and uphold the values of the relic.

“Additionally, the festivals are expected to create a breakthrough in local spiritual tourism, contributing to the provincial socio-economic development; offer space for ritual musicians and performers to gather to enhance the cultural values of the Mother Goddess worship that has been honoured by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)," she noted.

The festivals kick off with a special art show featuring performances of renowned Vietnamese singers like Tan Nhan and Hong Lien and the procession of the symbol of Mau Thuong Ngan (the Princess of the Forest), the second goddess who protects forests and mountains in the Mother Goddess religion.

Other major activities held as part of the festivals include the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Dong Cuong Temple as well as the ceremonies of incense and new rice offerings.

Many other activities that are expected to attract visitors are performances of a trance ceremony, contest of making com (young sticky rice), traditional games like tug-of-war, photos and painting exhibitions featuring rituals and cultural activities of Van Yen District.

Exhibitions of typical specialties and tours to spiritual and ecological destinations within the district will also be held for tourists on the occasion.

“Dong Cuong Temple is considered to be the origin of Mau Thuong Ngan (the Princess of the Forest) in the Mother Goddess religion by many folk researchers. The Goddess is assumed to possess supreme power but is also very close to locals’ spiritual life. In Mother Goddess Worship in general and Mau Thuong Ngan worship in particular, the ceremonies and festivals are diverse and original, which distinguishes them from other belief and religions, especially the hau bong (the ceremony during which the spirits become incarnated in a professional medium),” Lien said.

According to the vice chairwoman, the Cơm Mới (New Rice) Festival, which is held at Dong Cuong Temple at the beginning of the ninth lunar month, plays a significant role in the spiritual life of the locals.

After a harvest season, Tay Khao ethnic minorities in Yen Bai Province normally slaughter buffalo and make com (young sticky rice) as offerings to their ancestors and the Mother Goddess who blesses them with favourable natural conditions for bumper crops.

“The organisation of the New Rice Festival not only preserves the national cultural beauty but also help to educate the future generations about the tradition of being grateful to ancestors,” she added.

The festivals will run until October 28.  VNS


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