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Dau Pagoda Festival

April 02, 2008          1607 views

The Dau Pagoda, also known as Dien Ung, is situated in Dau Commune, Thuan Thanh district, in Bac Ninh province. Built in the 3rd century, it is the oldest pagoda in Vietnam.

The Dau Pagoda Festival, held on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, commemorates the goddess Man Nuong and is dedicated to the Cloud, Lightning, Rain and Thunder Spirits. This is also the birth date of Buddha, further adding significance to this festival.
People come from all over the province to enjoy the country fair, where there are lion dances, wrestling and a human chess game. A stick dance is held where thirty-two sticks are brought from one pagoda to the other. People from two nearby villages (Phung Quan and Thang Dao) were competing for the title of the swiftest at fetching a pail of water. Urns are everywhere, with people lined up twenty-deep at each one to light their incense.
This day has great meaning for the Buddhists who make their annual pilgrimage to the Dau Pagoda, among the oldest pagodas in the country. Many Buddhists believe they must visit this site every fourth lunar month to pay respect to the goddess Man Nuong.
According to a legend, the religious significance of the area dates back to the reign of Sy Nhiep who was governor of the region from 187-226. At that time, the Linh Quang Pagoda had been set up by the monk Khua Da La and was located to the north of the
Duong River. On the other side of the river lived the Tu Dinh family, who were so grateful to the monk that they sent their daughter Man Nuong to the monastery to learn from the monk.
One night, the monk tripped over Man Nuong on his way back to the monastery. When Man Nuong became pregnant, the monk declared that the Heavens had combined with the people to put a child in Man Nuong. The child was born at
noon on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. The mother took her child to the monk and he put the child in front of a very old tree and began to read his prayer book, tapping the tree with a sacred stick, asking the Heavens to give the child the gift of bringing rains to the village. The tree opened up and the monk put the child inside the trunk. Immediately, flowers bloomed all around the tree.
In the year of the rat, a fierce storm made the tree fall and drift down the
Dau River. The strongest men in the village were sent to pull the tree out, but they couldn't. Man Nuong, who was doing her washing by the river, cast out her belt and the tree immediately came to her.
That night, the governor dreamed of four beautiful statues that should be created in honor of the event. The first statue was named Phap Van, for the clouds and was put into the Thien Dinh Dien Ung Pagoda. The second one was named in honor of the rain, Phap Vu, and was put in the Than Dao Pagoda. The third one was called Phap Loi, meaning thunder, and was put in the Phi Tuong Pagoda. The last one was named Phap Dien, meaning lightning, and placed inside the Phung Quan Pagoda. The
Hoa Phong Tower was built in the autumn of 1737 by Mac Dinh Chi who was a famous scholar in the Tran Dynasty.
Festivals are a great time to visit pagodas and offer incredible opportunities to observe first hand that complex mix of origins, religion, myths, legends, sound, music, history and culture that make up