The Giong Festival is a traditional festival in commemoration and praise of the mythical hero Saint Giong, one of four immortals of Vietnamese folk beliefs.
The festival vividly imitates the evolution of fights of Saint Giong and Van Lang people under the 6th King Hung reign in combating against the foreign enemies, thereby raising the public awareness about the forms of ancient tribe war and educating the patriotism, martial art traditions, indomitable will, and independence and freedom desire of the nation. The Giong Festival is held in many locations throughout the northern part of Viet Nam, however the most typical ones are the Giong Festival at Phu Dong and Soc temples (Ha Noi).
Giong Festival at Soc Temple (Phu Linh Commune, Soc Son District, Ha Noi) is held annually from the sixth to the eighth days of the first lunar month. According to the legend, after defeating the foreign invaders, Soc Mountain in Phu Linh is the last stopover of the saint before flying to heaven. There are many traditional rituals during the festival such as procession ceremony, incense offering ceremony, the ritual of bathing saint’s statue and bamboo flowers offering ceremony to the Thuong (Upper) Temple where is dedicated to the Saint Giong.
To prepare for the festival, at the fifth day night, people from eight villages of six communes in Soc Son District have carefully prepared offerings to the saint. On the sixth day – the opening festival day – villagers and pilgrims make incense offering to the Saint Giong Monument on Mount Da Chong. And at midnight of the same day, there is the bathing ritual of Saint Giong’s statue.
On the main festival day, the seventh day which was the saint’s ascending to heaven day according to the legend, there is a procession of bamboo flowers to the Thuong Temple as offerings to the saint. The bamboo flowers are made of a bamboo pieces that are sharpened into flowers and dyed with various colors. The worshipped saint embodies the aspiration for a peaceful country, harmonious rain and wind, and abundant harvest.
During the festival, there are other traditional games such as Chinese chess, human chess, cock fighting… and art performances of villagers as traditional opera (cheo), love duet (quan ho).