Chu Dong Tu is one of four immortal gods in the Vietnamese pantheon. The festival annually takes place from the 10th to the 12th day of the second lunar month at two temples, Da Hoa and Da Trach, in Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province.
Starting from Ha Noi, visitors can travel downstream on the Red River by boat or canoe, or go by motorbike along the dyke of the Red River for 20 km. During the festival, pilgrims in colorful dress converge on the two temples, Da Hoa and Da Trach.
At Da Hoa Temple
In the early morning of the 10th, the inhabitants of nine communes hold a long procession along the dyke of the Red River to Da Hoa Temple. Marching in the van of the procession is Hoang Trach Commune. Following are Dong Que, Bang Nha, Phu Thi, Phuc Trach, Thiet Tru, Nhan Thap, Da Hoa communes, and finally Me So Commune.
When the procession reaches the temple, palanquins and offerings are placed at a stipulated place. Then, the members of the procession and pilgrims begin the opening ceremony at the courtyard.
As the opening ceremony and incense presenting ceremony end, people participate in traditional games that take place during day and night.
At Da Trach Temple
In the morning of the 10th, residents of Da Trach, Ham Tu, Yen Phu, Dong Tao and Tu Dan communes, Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province hold a procession from Da Trach Temple to the Red River to get water.
The water procession is preceded by a 20 meter-long dragon. Thirty strong young men carry the dragon and dance in the rhythm of drumbeats, which makes the procession jubilant. Following are two rows of women in colorful dresses holding flags, gongs and drums, and parasols. Young women perform a dance with conical hats and castanets with coins stringed. Young men carry palanquins holding a jar, and a profusely decorated stick and conic hat – the two magic articles bestowed on Chu Dong Tu by the Buddha. Then come three palanquins containing the tablets of Chu Dong Tu and his two wives. The end is God of Carp palanquin ” Be ngu than quan”. Notable men in traditional dresses go after the procession.
When the procession arrives at the riverbank, the boats of Khoai Chau District sail downstream the Red River to meet the procession of Mai Dong Commune (Hung Yen Province), Khai Thai and Tu Nhien Communes (Ha Tay Province). They join into a long procession and row to middle of the river to get water. The procession brings water to the temple at 11.30 a.m and the opening ceremony begins.
After the water palanquin is placed in the temple, palanquins of gods are placed in the courtyard, then the dragon dancing group comes to the temple’s door worship god; senh tien dance and conical hats dance are performed on Tien Bridge.
After the opening ceremony, various games and activities are organized such as wrestling, human chess, and traditional and religious dances.