Perfume Pagoda Festival takes place in Huong Son commune, My Duc district, Hanoi. The festival starts on 6th January and often lasts to the second half of March in the lunar calendar. On this occasion, millions of Buddhists followers and tourists come to visit this pagoda. This is considered a journey to a Buddhist land where Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara practices to offer incense and to free our soul in harmony with the nature of the land of Buddhism.
In the peak season, Chua Huong can greet up to thousands of visitors.
The peak season of the Perfume Pagoda Festival is from 15th January to 18th February in the lunar calendar. These initially are the mountain opening days of the locals. Currently, the mountain opening day ritual contains a new significance of pagoda opening.
The “Le” part of the Perfume Pagoda Festival is simple one day before the opening day, all the temples, pagodas are filled with the smoke of the incense, and festival atmosphere covers Huong Son. Huong Son is a commune that directly manages tourist routs here. Before entering the pagoda, tourists have to stay in some villages around Duc and Yen stations. Thus, joining the Perfume Pagoda Festival, visitors have a chance to be immersed in the atmosphere of traditional village festivals.
The incense offering festival takes place inside the pagoda which the offering things include incense, flowers, candles, lanterns, fruits and vegetarian dishes. When the ceremony takes place, there are two nuns in skillful, eye-catching and strange dances which hardly to be seen in other places. During the festival days, sometimes, we see monks coming to tap the gong and pray for about half an hour. And the smoke of incense never stops. The part of Le is inclined to meditation. However, the outside pagoda worships superiorities with all the colors of doctrine. Cua Vong Temple worships Thuong Ngon Princess, manager of the surrounding mountainous region, who called Ti Nu Tuy Hong. Bac Dai Pagoda, Tuyet Son Pagoda, Ca Pagoda and Quan Temple worship five tiers and god fish.
To begin the trip, we will take a rowing boat to stream along the Yen River.
The part of Le includes the whole belief system of religion in Vietnam with natural respect; with Morality; Buddhist; and Confucius. The religious characters are partly overwhelmed with love for nature, love between men and women, community love and more, which are both sacred and mundane. Joining the festival of Perfume Pagoda is the chance for you to immerse both of your mental and physical body into nature. The festival includes a god parade from the temple to the village house. Flags and drums are following by an orchestra of 8 sounds. Pretty boys and girls are responsible for processions while aged people join in with devotion. This atmosphere pleasures the souls of all people. In this festival, there are Holy procession and Literature procession. The locals carry the palanquin to the oration writer to carry the oration to the temple. The chairman ceremoniously reads it and instructs all the old to conduct the ceremony.
During the festival time, we see the enthusiasm of the young, the devotion of the old and the joyfulness of all people taking part in the festival.
Perfume Pagoda Festival is the gathering place of some unique cultural living activities including rowing, mountain climbing, and folk music singing and so on.
At festival time, Perfume Pagoda is crowded with hundreds of boats in and out. A special pleasure of Perfume Pagoda Festival is sitting on a boat, seeing the beautiful landscapes as if getting lost in a fairyland. Thus, talking about Perfume Pagoda is talking about the small boats – a type of boat culture of Vietnamese long time ago. Till now, boat races are still inspiring the tourists.
Farewell to the boat, people will be immersing in mountainous scenery and temples, starting a new journey of climbing. Mountain climbing and visiting caves are interesting activities that attract numerous people to join.
In the sacred atmosphere of this festival, Cheo singing takes place in many places including the yard of pagodas or temples. Some monks with good voices stand up and have some actions like rowing while singing the songs related to stories of Buddhists. This is an admirable activity of the monks.
Cheo performance in the festivals of Huong Pagoda.
As can be seen, Perfume Pagoda traveling at first is the contact and combination between humans and the infinite nature to enjoy the sparkling beauty of water, the vast appearance of earth, the mysterious beauty of mountains and caves and so on. It seems that the natural landscapes are prettier thanks to the imagination and also the kindness of the human.
The dualistic conception is expressed here when through the harmony of two different phenomenon and categories. Thus, the journey back to Buddhist land is sometimes hard but brings the balance in both spiritual and physical statuses of visitors.
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