Keo Hanh Thien Pagoda Festival taking place on 15th (full moon) of September Lunar calendar annually in Hanh Thien village (Hong Xuan, Xuan Truong, Nam Dinh). The festival is celebrated to worship the Buddha and Zen monk Khong Lo who was an excellent physician, bronze casting founder, talented architect. One of the most important activities of the festival is exciting boat racing.
The festival begins with processions of dragon boat through the Keo Pagoda Thien Hanh.
The procession is meticulously prepared from costumes to palanquin, dragon boat. The elders are leaders of the procession
Followers are young boys in colors traditional uniform
The most unique and exciting part of the festival is team boat racing. 15 boats represent for 15 hamlets of Hanh Thien village compete together, from all tributaries river of the village
Team leader of each boat is voted by whole hamlet through a careful choice process. Team leaders draw to select starting positions and these position do not change until all boats reaches to big river outside.
The race becomes more active and fierce when all boats race out to the large river. The participating team members wear uniforms and have red or yellow towel on his head. Those whose family has recent funeral, wear blue towel or none.
People stand on two banks of river to cheer for the boat race
Valuable spirit for victory of all participants
Overcoming nearly 40 km river during 4 hours, the boats will finish at locations designated by the organizing committee. A compulsory procedure is “dap TEU”, meaning the boat has to hit the target bamboo trees.
Victory smile of a man in the winner team. After the competition, everyone wish to get a handle fiber paddle or bamboo leaves which represent for luck, health and success.
Author: Phuong Dong