Van Kiep Festival

There is a Vietnamese saying “The fathers’ festival is in the 8th lunar month and the mothers’ festival is in the 3rd lunar month”. The Mothers’ festival is the festival of Phu Giay and the Fathers’ festival is the festival of Van Kiep. To visit here, follow Highway No. 1 from Ha Noi to Bac Ninh (29 km), then follow the provincial highway from Bac Ninh to Pha Lai (27 km), crosss Luc Bau river, then proceed 5 km to the north, and arrive at Van Kiep or Kiep Bac.
Originally, Van Kiep was a strategic position. In the 13th century in the resistance war against Yuan – Mongolian aggressors Van Kiep recorded many glorious victories of the people and army of the Tran dynasty. This is also where Tran Quoc Tuan made his home. It now belongs to 2 hamlets: Duoc Son, Van Yen, Hung Bao, Chi Linh district, Hai Duong province.
Van Kiep is a deep and large valley bordering on one side by the Luc Bau river and on the other three sides by mountains in the shape of a bow. There are Nam Tao and Bac Bau Mountains that form the position of “lying tiger, flanking dragon” as in the theory of feng shui in the old days. The home of Tran Quoc Tuan originally was very narrow and called Inside Valley. Later it was moved to the outside valley. At present there remain relics of the road linking the inside and outside valleys called “brick carrying road”.
From a very far distance, one can see a temple with an imposing three entranced gate.
Next to the gate is a large brick courtyard with houses on both sides (they no longer exist). Then comes the worship area: the main building, which is very large and beautifully decorated (but now there is only one drum hung on one side); the middle building, which was burned down by French troops; the back building, which remains relatively intact. There are statues of Tran Qudc Tuan, his wife, his two sons and two daughters. There are also statues of Pham Ngu Lao, Yet Kieu, and Da Tuong. These statues are all made of copper. In front of Tran Quoc Tuan’s statue is a sword. Stone tablets record the maintenance of the temple.
Near the temple is Vien Lang, where Tran Qudc Tuan was buried. It is a round low mountain with many trees around the temple. Often mentioned are the legends associated with the key military positions. Van Kiep was once chosen by Tran Qudc Tuan as his headquarters in the war.
From the highest point of the low mountain range that embraces Van Kiep, over a space of about 4 or 5 km, is Binh Than. This is where the well-known military conference of October 1282 was held, preparing for the 2nd resistance war against the Yuan – Mongolian aggressors.
In its third aggression against Viet Nam (1287-1288) general Thoat Hoan built Van Kiep into an important base, protected by wooden walls. After being defeated on every battlefields, Thoat Hoan burned and destroyed capital Thang Long, withdrew his troops to Van Kiep, attempting to retreat to their country safely by water and landway. But in Van Kiep, the enemy was attacked, forcing to a retreat to Da Bac and Bach Dang rivers, where they fell on our ambush of under water-pickets and were Completely destroyed. Generals, such as O Ma Nhi and Phan Tiep, were arrested.
The festival of Kiep Bac temple is held in the middle of the 8th lunar month. There is no performance at this festival. There are only activities, such as joss-tick offering or occasional rowing races. But every year people from all parts of the country come here cheerfully to remember Tran Quoc Tuan, a national hero, honoured as a god by the people. People also believe that the Tran god is especially divine and that those who sincerely worship him will be protected. Apart from that, guests can enjoy the beauty of the east of Viet Nam, especially in autumn.

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