Festival of the Holy Mother of Linh Son

Located about 11 km far from Tay Ninh town, the Black Lady Mountain is the highest mountain in South Viet Nam (884 m), where there is a number of attractions such as Phuoc Trung Ong Pagoda, and other pagodas. Of them the Black Lady Temple located at a height of 400 m is the most famous. The site consists of two parts: 1/ inside a cave and 2/ the structure outside of the cave.
The temple is dedicated to the Holy Mother of Linh Scrn, or Black Lady (as a sign of respect, people call her just “the Lady”). Several legends tell of the different origins of this figure.
1. Black Lady was a beautiful girl. At the age of 15, a young man asked for her hand but she refused because she wanted to become a Buddhist nun. One night she stealthily left her home for the mountain. Unfortunately, she fell prey to a tiger. And all what her parents found thereafter in the mountain were just some remains of her. This happened on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Later, the local people built a temple in her honour.
2. The Lady was originally named Ly Thien Huong. When she was about 15-16 years old, the son of the local mandarin had a soft spot for her but she didn’t accept him. One day, while she was in the mountain, the young guy sent a person there to capture her. She threw herself into a ravine. This happened on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Later, she was honoured as the Holy Mother of Linh Son worshipped at the local temple.
3. When chased by the Tay Son troops, Nguyen Anh (1762-1820) tried to seek shelter in Thailand. On the way to Thailand past this mountain, he visited the temple and prayed to the Lady for help. Later, when becoming King Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyen dynasty, he had the Temple refurbished, had a bronze statue cast in honour of the Lady and conferred on her the title of “Holy Mother of Linh Scfn”.
Every year, during the three spring months, the Temple becomes lively with numerous pilgrims. Yet, the main festival is held on 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
Prior to the festival, the ablutions ceremony is held at the midnight of the 4th day. A group of six women use new cotton towels soaked in perfumed water to wash the Lady’s statue. Then, they dress it in new attire. The used towels are distributed to people as lucks from the Lady.
At six o’clock in the morning of the 5th day, the Buddhist monks from the nearby Ong (Lord’s) pagoda come to the Temple to attend the ceremony of trinh thap cung (ten votive offerings: incense, lamps, flowers, tea, cinnamon, alcohol, cakes (ot), (fake) necklaces, (fake) bracelets and (fake) earrings. The ritual of making votive offerings is conducted to the accompaniment of a musical band. It is followed by the ritual of chanting sutras. In the evening, artistic performances are given (songs, dances with gold and silver trays).
On the 6th day, the Buddhist monks continue chanting sutras, and conduct some rituals such as offering food to wandering souls and to poor people.
In 1998, a cable-car system was introduced to facilitate pilgrimages.

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