Over 60,000 pilgrims and tourists flocked to Huong Pagoda in My Duc district, Hanoi , on Jan. 31, the opening day of the Huong Pagoda Festival, the nation’s longest and most elaborate annual festival.
Deputy Chairwoman of Hanoi People’s Committee Ngo Thi Thanh Hang delivered the opening speech of the event, stressing that the festival has spiritual significance and is an opportunity to return to the root and maintain the tradition of national culture.
Municipal, local leaders, Buddhist followers and tourist took part in the incense offering ceremony at Thien Tru pagoda.
The festival at the Huong Pagoda, also known as the Perfume Pagoda starts on the sixth day of the first lunar month.
However, within the first five days of the Lunar New Year, more than 82 thousand tourists and pilgrims have flocked to the sacred land to tour and pray for a prosperous and happy year.
In 2009, the Huong Pagoda Festival hopes to welcome 1.4 million visitors.
Last year, the three-month festival welcomed over 1.1 million visitors.
The Huong Pagoda Festival lasts over the next three months and features many performances. A special music show will be held on March 15 to remember the Bodhisattva Kwan Yin who, according to legend, reached enlightenment at Huong Pagoda.
Songs about Huong Mountain and Huong Pagoda by Pham Duy, Tran Van Khe and To Vu will be performed by My Linh, Minh Anh, Phuong Anh and saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan. A dance entitled Thien Thu Quan The Am (Goddess of Mercy) will reenact the life of the goddess.
Sightseeing trips to pagodas, temples and caves are among the other attractions of the festival, as well as ceremonies to ask favours from Buddha. After the opening ceremony, tourists and pilgrims can go on three main tours to visit the Huong Tich Cave Pagoda, Long Van Pagoda and Tuyet Son Pagoda.
The pagoda was previously situated in Ha Tay Province, but this year, with the expanded city limits, it is now under Ha Noi’s management, 60km from the city centre.