Thousands of locals and visitors attended the water procession and fish worship ceremonies held yesterday at Trần Temple Complex in Lộc Vượng Ward, Nam Định City of the northern province of Nam Định.
The ceremonies aim to honour ancestors of the Trần dynasty (1226-1400), who earned their livings from fishing.
The ceremonies also remind locals of famed fish breeds dating back hundreds of years in Tức Mặc Village, in today’s Lộc Vượng Ward. The village was also the residential area of the Trần family in Nam Định Province.
The ceremonies, which pray for good weather, had been lost for years until they were reborn in 2014 based on the memories of local elders.
Early yesterday morning, local elders gathered at Cố Trạch Temple to pray before setting off to take water from a nearby ancient well.
A procession of 200 people carrying flags, including dragon dance teams and drum players carried a sedan chair to the well. Fishermen with traditional costumes and fishing tools also joined the procession.
After fetching the water, the procession stopped to join a fishing ritual at a half-moon-shaped pond near the well. Ten snakehead and carp fish were caught and stored in a boat carried on a dragon-carved palaquin.
The procession moved to Thiên Trường Temple for a worship ceremony.
The fish were then set free in the Hồng (Red) River, aiming to bring a prosperous year for local fishermen.
Up to Sunday (February 12), there will be other activities like dragon dances, folk singing, human chess and folk wrestling.
On Saturday (February 11, or the 15th day of the first lunar month), a worship ceremony and symbolic royal seal distribution ceremony will be held.
“We have prepared enough symbolic royal seals to give to locals and tourists as lucky cards for the new year,” said Cao Xuân Hoạt, an organising committee member.
Phạm Thị Oanh, deputy chair of Nam Định People’s Committee, said the organisers had tightened management to ensure the festival’s security.
The Trần Temple Festival in Nam Định, which is held every year between 13th and 18th day of the first lunar year, was recognised as national intangible heritage in 2014.
The historical complex of the Trần Kings’ shrines and tombs received special national relic status in 2015.
The neighbouring Thái Bình Province is considered the birthplace of the Trần Kings, while Nam Định was their first residential area. The festival is also held at the Trần Temple complex in Thái Bình during the first lunar month every year.