|Way on Huong pagoda. Photo:Internet|
Oficially occuring from the 15th day to the 20th day of the second lunar month, Huong Pagoda Festival mainly consists of sightseeing trips to pagodas, temples and caves as well as visiting ceremonies to ask favours from Lord Buddha. Situated in Huong Son Site, Hanoi, Huong Pagoda complex is considered as one among centers of Buddhism in Vietnam. The pagoda complex consists of several Buddhist pagodas and temples on Huong Tich lime-stone Mountain. Located at the center of the complex is Huong Pagoda (so-called Trong Pagoda), which was built inside Huong Tich Cave - the most beautiful grotto of the South. Annually, a vast number of pilgrims have been flocking to the northern province of Ha Noi’s My Duc District for the three-month Huong Pagoda Festival, enjoying the beauty of the Huong Son limestone mountains at a time when apricot trees are in bloom and pay tribute to Buddha, specifically to Avalokitasvara, one of Buddha's disciples.
The festival is a traditional Vietnamese Buddhist celebration, held simultaneously in three locations: Huong Tich, Tuyet Son, and Long Van. The festival is most crowded from the 15th - 20th day of the 2nd month of the lunar calendar as this period marks the the main festival. However, since the first day of the lunar New Year, thousands of tourists and pilgrims have flocked to the sacred land to tour and pray for a prosperous and happy year. Spring is the idea time for bothVietnamese and foreigners come to Huong Son. Heading there, you have chances to live in a boisterous atmosphere of a spring festival amidst beautiful landscape. They seem to be free from all tiredness and sorrow and come to pay respect to the compassionate Buddha.
Huong Pagoda Festival is very different from other traditional festivals in Vietnam that recreational activities aren’t central part of the festival. Each year, thousands visitors from all regions in the country and foreign tourists as well go to Huong Pagoda at the time of festival. However, their aim is to visit scenic setting of Huong Pagoda (so-called Huong Son Pagoda) and pray for themselves and their family. On the way to Huong Pagoda, visitors will experience a local sampan boat ride on charming Yen Stream (Swallow Stream) from Duc Pier. Along the stream, one side is a magnificent lime-stone mountain and one side is a vast of green rice paddy. Those all contribute to wonderful picture of nature in spring. Visiting Huong Pagoda, everyone brings a lavish tray of sacrifice to offer Buddha, who is worshipped at Huong Tich Pagoda. After an incense-offering liturgy, each will eat a piece of their sacrifice in order to receive luck from Buddha.
The beautiful verse describes scenic spot of Huong Pagoda, designated by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site, which makes one can’t help having the feeling that is one were lost in a world of fairies. Huong Son attracts visitors not only with its wonderful landscape, but also with its sense of philosophy embodied inside its splendid caves, of which Huong Tich and Tuyet Son are the most impressive. Visitors are bewitched by the beauty of these cases which look half real and half unreal. That explains the reason why the cold weather cannot keep thousands of pilgrims and tourists away from the Huong Pagoda Festival, the nation’s longest and most elaborate annual festival.
According to the legend, a pilgrimage to Huong Pagoda in the spring will bring health, prosperity, good luck and happiness. And whether you believe in the story or not, there's no disputing that a trip like this offers a perfect chance to get closer to both nature and Vietnamese tradition.
Huong pagoda is written in a poem:
“This immense area with wonderful features
Makes one wonder whether it is fairyland
Huong Son itself is fairyland
Which is seen in this earthly world"