Soc temple and Saint Giong festival

Nga Do
Soc Temple, a historical monument located on Ve Linh mountain, Phu Linh commune, Soc Son district, Hanoi. This is the place for worshiping Saint Giong.

Soc temple and Saint Giong festival 1
Photo by Nguyen Trung Phuong
Legend has it that after defeating foreign invaders to the foot of Ve Linh mountain, expelling the last enemy out of the country, Saint Giong left his iron armor and rode his iron horse up to the sky. Originated from a small temple named Dong Thien Vuong that one day the King Le Hoan (Le Đai Hanh) with his soldiers were on their operation to fight Tong invaders, the King and soldiers came in and prayed for good luck. In that battle the invaders were soon driven out of  the country. On the way home, the King came in to give thanks and ordered to find a root of aloe wood to make a statue and construct a majestic temple and conferred the titles “Phù” and “Thiên”, his name is worshiped at Soc Temple as “Phù Đổng Thiên Vương”.

Soc temple complex located in a  vast area of mountains, trees and plants are verdant and thorny bamboos are golden all year round. Ancient and sanctuary temple roof was shrouded by the canopy of ancient trees hundreds of years old.

Soc Temple relic complex consists of Trinh temple, Mothertemple (for worshiping Saint. Giong’s Mother), Dai Bi pagoda, Upper temple, Da Chong which is believed to be the iron amour of Saint. Giong left before flying to the heaven and the stone tomb recording the history of Soc temple festival, forming a complex harmonious and lively. All these works have been built and restored since pre-Le dynasty and upgraded many times by the feudal dynasties and it is bigger and more beautiful today. Located in this relic complex are also Non Nuoc pagoda (Soc Thien Vuong Thien Tu), the place for worshiping the Great Buddha, its first master is Ngo Chan Luu who was conferred the title “Khuong Viet Quoc Su” in 971 by the King Dinh Tien Hoang. Non Nuoc pagoda which has been destroyed by the war has just been rebuilt after the war. In the pagoda, there is a masterpiece, a  statue of Great Buddha made of 30 tons of copper.

Soc temple historical relic complex remains many valuable historical and cultural value, contributing to the cause of Vietnam cultural preservation and promotion, recognized by the State as cultural heritage of national level.

Giong festival is a traditional festival annually celebrated  in many localities within Hanoi to commemorate and honor the scared feat of the legendary hero Saint Giong, one of four immortals in Vietnam’s religious beliefs.

There are two typical Giong festivals in Ha Noi including Giong festival annually held in Soc temple, Phu Linh commune, Soc Son district and Giong festival in Phu Dong temple, Phu Dong commune, Gia Lam district which have been recognized as the world cultural immaterial heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

After being recognized by UNESCO as the world’s cultural immaterial heritage, Giong festival in Soc temple has attracted more attention of people, visitors at home and abroad. Traditionally, the people of 8 villages belonging to 6 communes around Soc temple (Tan Minh, Tien Duoc, Phu Linh, Duc Hoa, Xuan Giang, Bac Phu) take part in procession including incenses, flowers, betels and arecas, fighting elephants,  bamboo flowers, king grass, decorated palankeen…which all demonstrate the gratitude to Saint. Giong and the pride of the national tradition to fight the foreign invaders and sporting spirit.

The most special thing in Giong festival is offering of bamboo flowers. They are artificial flowers woven with bamboo laths with cotton dye in artificial colouring in one end which  symbolize Saint. Giong’s horse riding-whip. Bamboo flowers are offered in the procession in Thuong temple and then down to Ha temple. After procession, these bamboo flowers are distributed to the villagers and visitors as a lucky gift in the new year. In addition to the procession of offering and presents, there are various cultural and sports activities serving the local people, pilgrims and visitors including traditional games such as flying trapeze, clay pot – beating, duck-catching, Chinese chess; Quan Ho singing, singing and dance performance; soft volleyball, traditional martial arts…

The Giong Festival with special national cultural characteristics and high community features is attracting a large number of domestic and international visitors come to visit and study in Vietnam

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