As Vietnamese people always show deep gratitude towards their origins and ancestors, annually, the Death anniversary of the Hung Kings-also known as Hung King Temple Festival-is celebrated on 10th day of 3rd lunar month.
Who is Hung king?
It is likely that the name Hung Vuong is a combination of the two Sino-Vietnamese words Hung, which means “brave” and Vuong, which means “king”. The name Hung Vuong might have originally been a title bestowed on a chieftain. The Hung Vuong was allegedly the head chieftain of Văn Lang/ Âu Lac which at the time was composed of feudal communities of rice farmers.
According to the Hung kings narrative, the eighteen Hung kings belonged to the Hong Bang dynasty (c. 2879-258 BCE) that ruled over the northern part of modern Vietnam in antiquity. Their progenitors were Dragon Lac and his consort Fairy Au Co who produced a sac containing one hundred eggs from which one hundred sons emerged. Dragon Lac preferred to live in the sea, and Fairy Au Co preferred the mountains. The two separated with half of the sons following each parent. The most illustrious of the sons became the first Hung king who ruled Van Lang, the realm of all the descendants of Dragon and Fairy Au Co who became the Vietnamese people, from his capital in modern Phu Tho province of Vietnam.
History of Hung Kings Commemoration Day
The first Hung King reigned in the Red River Valley of Southeast Asia during the beginning of the Bronze Age. Since Vietnam was founded this early in history, Hung Kings Commemoration Day has been celebrated in various ways throughout Vietnam for many years. In 2007, Hung Kings Commemoration Day became an official holiday. As a public holiday, many Vietnamese people can enjoy some time away from work to honor their nation’s history with their friends and loved ones.
Being one of the public holidays of Vietnam, this festival is for worshipping Hung Kings, those who make great contribution in building the country in its very first start. Death anniversary of the Hung Kings has the purpose of educating the young generation of Vietnam society about their traditional root. On this special day, Vietnamese people, not only at home but also abroad, turn their souls and hearts towards Nghia Linh Mountain, Viet Tri City, Phu Tho Province—the sacred land where Hung Kings established the country centuries ago.
What people do on Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings?
Every year is the same—people from all corners of the country and even oversea gather at Hung King Temple, Phu Tho to participate in solemn ceremonies. The first one among them is a procession of great spectacularity. From the 9th day’s afternoon, the village in charge of operating the procession gathers at the foot of Nghia Linh Mountain, preparing the palanquin and oblations including foods, flowers, and incense sticks. In the early morning of the 10th day, together with beautiful young boys and girls in beautiful holiday clothes carrying colorful offerings, flags and flowers, delegates head towards the mountain to offer wreaths from leaders of the nation, representatives of Phu Tho province as well as other provinces and cities. Specially, in even years, this activity is, lead by honored soldiers from Vietnam’s People Army. After that is the incense offering ritual carried out at the Upper Temple of Hung King Temple. In the years when the festival is organized by Phu Tho province, the opening speech is read by the Chairman of the province; meanwhile, in the years when the festival is held nationally, it is operated by a representative from Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism or one of the country’s head of state. For example, in the year of 2012, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung is the one who conducted this rite.
Beside the Upper Temple, flocks of people also offer incense sticks and flowers at other places nearby such as Gieng Temple or the foot of Nghia Linh Moutain. The whole process of palanquin procession ceremony and incense offering ceremony is directly reported so that every person living in Vietnam or in a foreign country can experience the spirit of this meaningful event. Participating in these ceremonies, people from all parts of the country, regardless of ages, pray their ancestors for blessed lives.
Overall, Death anniversary of the Hung Kings is a valuable opportunity for Vietnamese at home and abroad to strengthen the country’s long lasting tradition of gratitude, patriotism as well as enhance national solidarity.