The Hanoitimes - Millions of people across the country annually flock to the sacred Nghia Linh mountain in the northern midland province of Phu Tho on the anniversary of the death of the Hung Kings, which falls on lunar March 10, to pay tribute to the legendary national founders.
The worship ritual originates from ancestor worship rituals in Vietnamese families and has become a significant cultural festival for the people. It helps to link the past and the present and foster strong sentiments of Vietnamese people for their families and country.
The ritual is significant in the mind of Vietnamese people as it confirms that they have the same father and mother. The origin reminds Vietnamese of their unity and mutual affection.
It is said that Hung Kings taught people how to plough and grow rice and granted vitality to land, houses, trees and livestock.
Therefore, the worship ritual demonstrates the moral saying, “When drinking the water, remembering its source”.
In recent times, more attention has been paid to the Hung Kings worship ritual.
According to the Vietnam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, about 20 percent of temples, communal houses and shrines relating to the ritual were destroyed by time, war and bad weather.
The community has requested the restoration of the sites for this important festival, as well as related festivals and sacrifices.
Nguyen Ba Khiem, Deputy Director of the Phu Tho Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, says many villages have voluntarily contributed money and human resources for the restoration of worship sites.
In several villages, the elders have themselves collected legends on the Hung Kings and given them to researchers and heritage officers.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also established a data bank on the Hung Kings Temple Festival to serve research and restore related customs which had almost been lost.
Pho Tho province is completing a dossier on the Hung Kings worship ritual to seek UNESCO recognition as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It has also launched an action plan to protect and develop the worship ritual.
Under the plan, Phu Tho completed an inventory of its ritual and expanded the inventory to other localities nationwide and Hung Kings worship sites in foreign countries.
The northeastern province also conducted research on ceremonies and customs relating to the ritual while teaching about the ceremonies for future generations.
The province successfully organised a seminar on ancestor worship ritual in modern life and Hung King’s worship ritual in Vietnam , bringing together over 400 scholars from the US , France , Japan and China and nearly 100 domestic scholars.
Nguyen Xuan Cac, Director of the Hung Kings Relic Site, said the annual Hung Kings Temple Festival aim to build and develop a modern Vietnamese culture with national characteristics.
In an effort to preserve the ritual, the National Cultural Heritage Department and the Vietnam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies have coordinated with the Ministry of Education and Training to add Hung Kings worship ritual legends into school curricula at all levels.