Located on Hung Dao Commune, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong province, Kiep Bac Temple is dedicated to Tran Quoc Tuan-Saint Tran, the transcendent general of Tran Dynasty who lead Vietnamese army towards victory in the war against Yuan-Mongolian aggressors in the 13th century.
Kiep Bac Temple Festival
Originally, the temple was named Hung Dao Vuong Tran Quoc Tuan; however, as it was built on the mutual vicinity of Kiep village and Bac village, the name ‘Kiep Bac’ has been widely accepted. Each year, between the 15th and the 20th day of the 8th lunar month, Kiep Bac Temple Festival draws the visitation of people from all over the country.
The festival has it start marked by a procession on land from Van Yen (Kiep village), Duoc Son (Bac Village), and Con Son towards Kiep Bac temple on the 20th in the early morning. Another procession on water—in this case, river—is departed from Tran Xa Lagoon, and then moves to the dock in front of the temple through Thuong River. At the predetermined time, these two processions will meet each other at the entrance gate of the temple. Later on, an incense offering rite is processed in which praising speech towards Saint Tran is delivered. After that is another procession—one with a red-lacquered gold-inlaid palanquin covering Saint Tran’s ancestral tablet, accompanied by dragon and lion dances, heading to the bank of Luc Dau River. This progress seems to remind observers about the famous battle on Bach Dang River under the genius leadership of Tran Hung Dao hundreds years ago,
The procession continues with the palanquin embarks on a dragon boat beautifully decorated with flags and flowers. The crew leaves the dock accompanying by the marvelous harmony of horns, gongs, and drumbeats as well as the joyful shouts of the crowed audience. After finishing its trip on Luc Dau River, the procession comes back to Kiep Bac temple.
Another appealing activity of the festival is the race on Luc Dau River, with the enthusiastic participation of dozens of boats and the cheerful acclamation by thousands of people from every corner of Vietnam.
After all the processions gather at the gateway to the temple at a definite time, the ritual of incense offering takes place. The head of the religious ceremony delivers a speech to commemorate the efforts of Tran Hung Dao and the history of the anti-Yuan-Mongolian struggle during the Tran regime. After the deliverance of the funeral oration by the officiant, people offer incense sticks. A vibrant ceremony characterized by a palanquin procession takes place after the completion of the incense-offering ritual. The blessed tablet of Saint Tran is kept in a red lacquered and gold gilded palanquin embellished with dragon and lion dancers around. The procession leaves the dock accompanied by enthusiastic drumbeats, gong and horn sounds and the zeal of the followers. A major attraction of the festival is the race of dozens of boats on the Luc Dau River. The enthusiastic people come from nearby Hanoi and other places beyond. All gather with the belief that Vietnam is a country that will never succumb to a foreign power. Notwithstanding the modern elements that have been incorporated to the festival, it has retained its traditional fervor.
Tens of thousands of Vietnamese people make the pilgrimage to celebrate not only their great general, but their nation’s proud military history. They are united by a belief and a great notion that Vietnam is a great country and it has not and will never bow to a foreign power.
Some important information
Despite various modern elements integrated into the event, Kiep Bac Temple Festival has still reserved its traditional traits. Attending the festival, Vietnamese people hold the firm belief that the nation will never yield to foreign forces.
- Time: 15th-20th day of 8th lunar month
- Purpose: venerate Tran Quoc Tuan (Saint Tran)
- Ceremonies: processions (land, water, palanquin), offering rites
- Entertaining activities: dragon and lion dances, boat racing
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