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Legends of Huong River, the most-splendid-ever festivity on the river

July 09, 2008          1096 views

As a mild rhythm in the gorgeous symphony of Truong Son range, Huong River has become a special gem of this land. It is this river that embraces and shapes Hue, breeding the birth and the development of Thuan Hoa town, or Phu Xuan town later, and then Hue Old Capital, for over 700 years now.

Especially, the river is embedded with numerous legends, ranging from that of its name to those of other historical figures. This is the source of inspiration for the festive program “Legends of Huong River” in Hue Festival 2008.

The program “Legends of Huong River” is scened from Bang Lang cross-river to Nghinh Luong Dinh, and composed of two sub-programmes: on boat (moving) and on-site (without moving).

The program is to highlight the culture, history and natural landscape beauty of a river that has been close to the heart of Hue people; honor the tangible and intangible cultural values of Hue as an old capital. It is an attractive tourism product that will be provided regularly, thus helping to raise the profile of Hue as a land of rich culture and tourism; and enriching the cultural life of people. 
Together with a major Royal boat, 20 other dragon boats will team up into a boat leasure procession by a king of the Nguyen Dynasty. Major Royal boat is a spacy one (around 7m x 18m), restored and adjusted to accommodate about 50-60 tourists/voyage. There is a screen on the boat to display power-point presentations about the river.

From the wharf near Minh Mang Tomb, after the dance of “Five dragons welcome happiness”, tourists begin their trip on the boats enjoying food and perceiving the legend river though 18 highlight spots during trip.  


Tuan Bridge is the first stop, where a large drum team is waiting to welcome and introduce tourists into the legend.

Next, from the National Road, the sight of the patrol military men will remind tourists of the atmosphere in the old days. Then the temple of Hai Cat village will vaguely come into sight, with its altar and the elderly welcoming in colourful flags and festive music; and so will the scene of solemn patrol service men around Tomb Cao Hoang. The boats will stop by Hon Chen Place, where tourists will observe a scene of the king proceeding to an incense-offering ritual in Chau Van music; the imperial maid will present holy cards with wishes for good health, good lucks and prosperity to tourists on the boats. Somewhere on the river round Vong Canh Hill, the sight of installment art of Dinh Khac Thinh will blend with the vague fog. When the boats are about to pass Vong Canh Hill, there will be two passengers’ boats with fishermen performing partner-singing. In front of the cultural village “Return to One’s Source” is the scene “Spreading the fish-net”. Fishing boats take turn to spread the fish nets in the sunset and then collect the netted fishes in exciting songs; on the alluvial land, little boys are tending their oxen, playing their flutes and flying the kites; at the end of the alluvial land are 9 burning flames that stand for “Sky-Earth axis” and 9 Nguyen reigns; at the foot of Xuoc Du bridge, daily activities of the fishing village appear in flickering light; lotus-shaped lamps are released from the boats, flowing like people’s dreams; Van Mieu Mon, Dai Thanh Mon are silhouetted prominently in the light. New doctors offer incense, and from Van Mieu, 32 sky lamps are released bringing names of the doctors; the boats stop by Thien Mu Pagoda, where tourists can see on the bank poems about Thien Mu pagoda written in Chinese characters by Nguyen kings; on the steps to the bank, burning lamps are located in the shape of the name of Thien Mu Pagoda in Chinese character; then comes scene of the fairy lady that advised King Nguyen Hoang to choose the site for the pagoda; about 40 monks light the lotus lamps in the sound of wooden bell; tourists send their wishes along with the flowing lotus-lamps. The boats continue their trips. At Kim Long temple, the boats are welcomed by the elderly and children with the “Cuu long” installment art displaying letter “Kim Long” in Chinese, that reminds of the old Kim Long capital (1636-1678) and Lords Nguyen, and the South-ward movement by Lord Nguyen Hoang to expand the territory (1558-2008); At Bach Ho Bridge, 9 Prowash lights suddenly turn on as a symbol of 9 Lords of Nguyen Dynasty. A curtain of firework from the bridge welcomes tourist to on-site programme. The well-lit trees on the river bank from Bach Ho Bridge to Nghing Luong Dinh glisten sublimely. 13 skylights are turned on, symbolizing 13 Kings of Nguyen Dynasty. Boats stop at assigned places in Nghinh Luong Dinh wharf; fireworks are burnt up from the boats, joining the fireworks from the major royal boat to mark the end of the on-boat program and the beginning of the on-site one. From the boats, tourists enjoy the art performance.

The stage in Nghinh Luong Dinh is designed into 3 levels, namely upper, middle and lower; with four groups of dragons and 2 cloud clusters serving as a background scene for the performance. The Huong River Legend will be further told through carefully-designed scenes, dances, poem recitals, etc.

There are totally 11 major art items, linked by narration by angels. These include the dance “Origin of the river” with angles dancing in the fragrance of the perfume grass; the scene of Lord Nguyen Hoang’s courageous southward territorial expansion; the scene “Thousand miles away from the motherland” about Princess Huyen Tran bidding farewell to the country; “The Four Great Sights” with lyrics by King Tu Duc; “Long ngam” in emotional music of soft string instruments and flutes; the exciting “Trinh tuong tap khanh”, the time-treasured poem “Huong Giang hieu phiem” by King Thieu Tri; “Kim Long beauty”; the royal “Vu phien dance” with many historical figures; and the solemn “Dance of lamps and six offerings”, which marks the end of the art performance.

The joyous dragon dance in bright fireworks in the yard in front of Nghinh Luong Dinh will be a farewell performance to tourists.

The Huong River Legend will later on be adjusted, with major components being retained to serve as a tourist program, a distinctive cultural product of Hue at night. Obviously there is a distance from intention to reality, due to many objective and subjective conditions; but most of all, this goal needs broad participation from all sides to be realized.  

Hue Festival Center