The Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh is one of the largest festivals in Northern Vietnam. Every spring, tourists eagerly travel to Quang Ninh to participate in the Yen Tu Festival, marveling at the serene and sacred landscapes, participating in Buddhist rituals, and seeking blessings for a prosperous and harmonious new year.

A glimpse into Yen Tu's majesty

The Yen Tu mountainous region is a historical site encompassing temples, pagodas, shrines, Buddha statues, and magnificent landscapes of mountains and forests. Before being known as Yen Tu, this mountain was also referred to as Elephant Mountain due to its resemblance to a giant elephant standing proudly amidst the sky-high peaks.

The beauty of this area is shrouded in white clouds throughout the year, occasionally revealing the hidden temples, tall and majestic pagodas nestled among the trees, and winding streams. Due to its captivating scenery, Yen Tu has been recognized by dynasties in Vietnam as a "famous mountain" of the country.

The Yen Tu historical site is located on the mountaintop, offering a serene and solemn space

Yen Tu Pagoda is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Vietnam during the Dai Viet period. After King Tran Nhan Tong abdicated the throne, he came here for spiritual practice. Therefore, every spring, Yen Tu Pagoda comes alive with vibrant festivities, aiming to honor the merits of King Tran Nhan Tong, who became a Buddhist monarch through his dedication to spiritual pursuits.

The unique activities during the Yen Tu Festival

The Yen Tu Festival unfolds over three months during the spring, commencing from the 10th day of the Lunar New Year and lasting until the end of March. 

Preparation for the festival opening day

Before the festival officially kicks off, at the Trinh Temple - Yen Tu, a ritual to open the Yen Tu forest is organized. People perform rituals, recite Buddhist scriptures, offer prayers to the heavens and earth, and honor the Buddha and mountain deities, all in hopes of ensuring a peaceful and auspicious festival season. This ceremony serves as a symbolic opening, a plea for divine permission to commence the festivities.

The festival is held at the beginning of spring

Grand opening ceremony of Yen Tu Festival

The festival opening ceremony takes place on the morning of the 10th day at the Truc Lam Yen Tu Cultural Center, featuring solemn rituals imbued with profound educational significance. Monks will lead the ceremony, offering prayers for the country's peace and prosperity. Following this, delegates will consecutively imprint sacred seals on the Yen Tu stamp.

To add vibrancy to the festival, large-scale cultural performances featuring renowned artists from within and beyond the province are interspersed, creating a harmonious atmosphere for the festival's onset. Additionally, this section includes various fascinating activities such as bell ringing, drum beating, and unique New Year blessings.

The rituals at the Yen Tu Festival are conducted solemnly

Pilgrimage and panoramas at Yen Tu

After the opening ceremony, visitors can take part in traditional folk games or witness unique performances. Besides, thousands of people embark on a pilgrimage, moving in lines, and gradually making their way to the summit of Yen Tu Mountain – the location of the sacred Dong Pagoda, revered and ancient. 

The journey along the mountain trail is challenging, winding through lush trees and shrouded in mist. Nowadays, the mountain ascent is no longer daunting, you can choose the cable car for a quicker and more accessible route.

Before this sacred temple, hidden in the mystical haze, you'll feel a sense of fulfillment as if reaching the realm of Buddha. From the mountain peak, in the ethereal atmosphere, you can gaze into the distance, admiring the majestic landscapes of Halong Bay.

People light incense to wish for peace and good luck in the new year

The Yen Tu Festival stands as a testament to Vietnam's cultural richness and spiritual depth. As you plan your Vietnam travels, consider making this festival a part of your itinerary. Explore the depths of Vietnam's heritage, witness the beauty of Yen Tu, and immerse yourself in a celebration that echoes the country's rich traditions.

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