Thap Cuu Tien Cong Festival



Place:  At Thập Cửu Tiên Công Temple (Temple of the 19 Founding Fathers) in Cẩm La Commune on Hà Nam Island, Yên Hưng District.

Time: Every year, the village starts the festivities on the seventh day of the first lunar month.

Significance:  In commemorating the 19 founding fathers who built dykes, created the populated island of today.

Legend has it; the festival opening day was the day founding fathers discovered an underground fresh water on the island, more than 500 years ago.

At Tiên Công Temple, dignitaries present themselves to the founding fathers, then choose four elderly men to assist them in the ritual of ground-breaking.

On the seventh day, the senior men of the village (all older than 70 years old), along with their children and grandchildren, arrive at the temple. The young people carry offerings (include betel and areca, wine, steamed glutinous rice, chicken or the head of a pig) on their heads to the decorative cult tables. The elderly men follow them, if need be, aided by their offspring. Every family makes its own procession. All processions join together near the temple make a jubilant and animated atmosphere but still sacred.  The old men present offerings and worship Tiên Công, the ceremony generally ends at noon.

Then, comes the ground-breaking ritual: the four chosen men pick four balls of earth and build a mock dyke in front of the incense table of the founding fathers. They then perform acts of wrestling to represent the “struggle against nature". This is to continue the cause of those who built dykes on the sea to protect the villages and hamlets of the island.