Phu Dien Festival

Phu Dien Village, now in Trieu Loc Commune, Hau Loc District, Thanh Hoa province, lies along Highway 1A. Here, a festival is held from the 19th to the 24th day of the 2nd lunar month to commemorate the death anniversary of Trieu Thi Trinh (Lady Trieu). In the early 3rd century, Viet Nam was under the rule of the Wu (China). In 248, Lady Trieu, a native of Nua Mountain, now Nong Cong District, Thanh Hoa (another legend says that her native homeland was the mountain region of Quan Yen, Yen Dinh District), launched an uprising to liberate the country. She succeeded in driving out the Chinese Wu Governor and his troops garrisoning in Phu Dien. Insurgents used Tung Mountain as the base. Then the Wu sent General Lu Yin to re-invade Viet Nam. Due to unequal strength, the insurgent army was defeated. Lady Trieu fell in a battle, and was buried by the local people on Tung Mountain. Later, the local population built a temple on the opposite mountain and a communal house in the village to be dedicated to her. Lady Trieu was sanctified as tutelary goddess of the village.
By noontime of the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, the Temple Management (consisting of about 4-6 persons aged between 45 and 65, healthy and virtuous) conducts the cao yet (permission-requesting) ceremony at the temple. Next comes the ablution ceremony (to wash the statue of the Lady at the temple and her worshipping tablet at the communal house). Around 4 PM, Trinh quan (troops- reviewing) ceremony is conducted to review palanquin bearers (about 60), flag holders (about 50), and ritual performers (about 20). The Trinh quan ceremony is followed by a big feast.
On the morning of the 20th day of the 2nd lunar month, the procession begins with ritual objects such as imperial equipage, flags, banners, fans, drums, and gongs, ritual weapons, and five palanquins. The first palanquin in the front carries the altar with an incense burner on it; then comes the bat cong palanquin (8 carriers) with a statue of the Lady on it. (The statue is included in the ceremonial procession only in the year when the main festival is held. In other normal yearly festivals, it is replaced by her worshipping tablet). Next is a song loan palanquin with worshipping tablets of the mandarins, attendants of the Lady. Next is long dinh (dragon-headed) palanquin with royal edicts container. Finally, comes the hammock palanquin, with an embroidered pillow on it, which is carried by virgins. The procession proceeds from the temple via the communal house, covering a road section of about 300 metres. Particularly, the same thing happens each year: during the procession, the palanquins sway for a while but the worshipping objects remain steady.
By noon, the procession reaches the communal house. The officiants enter the communal house for a respect¬paying service lasting for about two hours. Then, the procession proceeds to the mausoleum of the Lady, 300 metres away from the communal house. En route, the procession pauses for a while in front of the tombs of the three mandarins of the Ly clan, the Lady’s generals. At the foot of Tung Mountain, the officiants go up to the Lady’s mausoleum for a service and then the procession comes back to the communal house. By then, it’s almost dawn.
On the night of the 20th day of the 2nd lunar month, there is a performance of songs in honour of the deities. On the 21st day, the sacrifice-offering ceremony is held. The villagers bring their votive offerings to the communal house. By noon, the offerings are divided among the groups. In the evening there are songs and dance performances.
On the morning of the 22nd day of the 2nd lunar month, the palanquin procession reaches the temple, taking to another road in the south of the village. Next come the ceremonies of “accomplishment” and “discharging the troops”. From that day to the 24th day of the 2nd lunar month, people near and far come to make votive offerings. There are also folk games such as wrestling, tug-of-war, cock fighting, etc. The main festive day is on the 24th day of the 2nd lunar month.

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