Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, delegates, locals, and visitors respectfully offered incense in commemoration of the 685th death anniversary of Venerable Huyen Quang at the festival opening ceremony.
Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh and delegates offer incense in commemoration of the 685th death anniversary of Venerable Huyen Quang, the 3rd patriarch of Truc Lam Zen
The Organizing Board of the Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival solemnly held the opening ceremony of the 2019 festival and commemorated the 685th death anniversary of Venerable Huyen Quang, the 3rd patriarch of Truc Lam Zen, (1334 – 2019) on the evening of February 20 (i.e. the 16th day of the 1st lunar month).
Ms. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Member of the Party Central Committee, Vice President, attended the event.
In his commemorative address, Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duong Thai stressed that since the 14th century, Con Son had been one of major Buddhist centers of Truc Lam, a pure Vietnamese Zen contributing to forming Dong A power - a spiritual fulcrum for the army and people of Dai Viet (a former name of Vietnam) to maintain independence and sovereignty in the face of hostile forces' invading conspiracies.
Every spring, Vietnamese people at home and abroad flock to the festival and burn incense to commemorate Venerable Huyen Quang, the 3rd patriarch of Truc Lam Zen.
Huyen Quang, whose real name is Ly Dao Tai, was born in the 1st month of the 4th Nguyen Phong year (1254) to a mandarin family under the Ly dynasty in Van Tu village (now in Thai Bao commune, Gia Binh district, Bac Ninh province).
Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee Nguyen Manh Hien beats the drum to kick off the 2019 Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival
At that time, Huyen Quang was one of talented intellectuals and famous for his poems and letters. He worked at the Tran dynasty's Academy and was assigned to receive ambassadors of Northern dynasties.
However, similar to King Tran Nhan Tong, he resigned from office, persistently learnt religions, and compiled prayer books.
Together with King Monk Tran Nhan Tong and Phap Loa, Huyen Quang went to every corner of the country to preach and became the 3rd patriarch of Truc Lam Zen.
In the last years of his life, he was the head of Con Son pagoda, propagandized dharma, established a cuu pham lien hoa (nine-tier lotus-shaped) tower, and compiled prayer books for later generations.
He passed away in his 80th year on January 23, 1334 at Con Son pagoda. His date of death became an annual ancestral death anniversary of Con Son pagoda.
Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duong Thai affirmed that over the past nearly seven centuries, Con Son – Kiep Bac festivals – part of the national intangible cultural heritage – had not only contributed to forming the special and diverse culture of Hai Duong but also become a continuous flow with cultural vitality and wishes of millions of Vietnamese people.
Taking water from Con Son lake to the temple of forefathers
Over the past years, the tangible and intangible cultural value of Con Son relic site has always been preserved and promoted by the provincial authorities, typical works have been being renovated and restored, etc.
At the ceremony, Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee Nguyen Manh Hien drummed to kick off the 2019 Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival.
After the festival opening drumbeats, Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, delegates, locals, and visitors respectfully offered incense in commemoration of the 685th death anniversary of Venerable Huyen Quang.
At the end of the ceremony, the leaders, delegates, locals, and visitors watched a special musical show themed Ve Noi Nhan Kiet Dia Linh (Coming to the Land of Extraordinary People) and performed by actors, actresses, and instrumentalists from the Hai Duong Cheo (Traditional Operetta) Theatre.
The 2019 Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival is taking place from February 14 – 27 (i.e. the 10th – the 23rd day of the 1st lunar month) with various attractive contents imbrued with historical and cultural color.
On the morning of the same day, the Festival Organizing Board held water procession and bell casting ceremonies at Con Son pagoda.
Pouring bronze into the bell casting mold
Thousands of people in the water procession moved from Con Son pagoda to Con Son lake. There, monks offered incense, asked for water, released birds and fish, etc.
Then, delegates and monks took water from a circle of vitality (a garland dropped on clear waters) and poured it into a jug.
The jug was brought to the bank and placed onto a palanquin to be taken to Con Son pagoda.
The water procession ritual aims to take holy water for year-round worshipping in a Buddhist shrine and implementation of the moc duc (statue bathing) ritual.
The maintenance of the water procession ritual has contributed to creating a unique character for the Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival.
The bell casting ceremony took place in the stone yard of Con Son pagoda in accordance with Buddhist rituals.
The bell is made of bronze, 1.8 m high, and 1.2 m wide, weighs 1.2 tons, and was casted following the bell of Van Ban pagoda (Do Son, Hai Phong), which dates from the Tran dynasty in the 14th century.
Carved around the bell are four words: Con, Son, Tu, Chung and a poem praising Buddhism, the immeasurable merit of bell casting, and Con Son landscape.
The bell will be hung in the bell tower of Con Son pagoda to serve Buddhist rituals.