The History of Ba Chua Kho Temple
Ba Chua Kho temple stands in the middle of Kho Mountain, a part of Bac Ninh Province. It was constructed in the 19th century with the ancient architecture and complicated carvings. Besides, the pagoda plays a crucial role in the cluster of the Co Me area, comprising communal temples, temples, and pagodas recognized by the state. Not only is a historical relic containing high cultural values, but the site also obtains spiritual values, attracting national citizens to make pilgrimages each year.
Ba Chua Kho temple is associated with a profound legend. According to the story, Ba Chua Kho is a beautiful and clever woman. During the fight on Nhu Nguyet River lead by Eunuch Ly Thuong Kiet in 1076, she excellently completed the missions of producing and storing food, as well as guarding the national ware. Additionally, the woman had great merit in persuading people to set up their houses and farm in the area of Qua Cam, Co Me, Thuong Dong land.
Later, when becoming a queen under the Ly dynasty, she continued to help the king to manage the country and preserve the state commodity. She spent her whole life supporting national citizens; the invaders killed her while she distributed the food for the people. Appreciating her hard work and morality, the king titled her the Lady of the Storehouse. To commemorate her assistance, residents built a temple to worship her. It is located in the former store on Kho Mountain.
The Festival of Ba Chua Kho Temple
According to the annual tradition, the local people take place the festival on 14th January (in lunar calendar) to memorialize her great merits. On that day, people all over the country eagerly pour into the temple to pray for peace and prosperity. Each year, the sacred site welcomes thousands of visitors to incense. The offerings are varied, from simple items such as incenses, flowers, and joss papers to more complex objects like a boiled chicken, a plate of sticky rice, or a plate of five fruits. No matter how big the offering is, every traveler shows their sincere wish for a prosperous and peaceful year. Also, there are a vast number of guests coming to "borrow money" from the Goddess.
The ritual of borrow money is quite weird and fascinating. People have to prepare a piece of paper and write the amount of money they want to borrow, the aim of using the money, and the time to give the money back. Besides, they need to provide offerings. With the belief that the Goddess will bless them to make more money and the religious view of one must pay their loan, so, regardless of their financial situation, they remember to pay the money back at the end of the year. This ritual of borrowing money originated from the ancient beliefs and strengthened during wartime; therefore, although there were plenty of fierce battles, the temple still exists until these days.
Remarkable Notes When You Visit Ba Chua Kho Temple
Based on the traditional customs of the East, simplicity and solemnity are always mandatory in spiritual places. When heading to Ba Chua Kho pagoda, polite and simple-in-color clothing is the best choice. You should wear neither casual nor prolix costumes to move more quickly. Additionally, you have to walk or climb a lot; thus, flats and sneakers bring a comfortable feeling.
Along the way leading to the pagoda, local people sell various offerings, comprising incenses and joss papers. However, you had better prepare beforehand to avoid tourist traps. You should leave money in merit boxes, instead of putting on altars. Also, when you prepare food as offerings, you should make it carefully and put it on your head to move to the shrine so as to avoid collisions in the crowd of people rushing into the temple.
In recent years, the chaos in Ba Chua Kho Temple has caused frustration to travelers, due to the service of hiring a priest to offer sacrifices. Although the board of managers has announced the issue, there are still a lot of priests sneak in and take visitors' places. It is okay if you are not a master in offering sacrifice, just show your sincerity, don't hire a priest to do it for you.