Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival starts from January 6th. Formerly, the festival only lasts for a week. Recently, with the attention and investment of the State, the complex has been upgraded into a larger cultural site which is famous not only for Vietnamese but also for foreign tourists. The festival today lasts for the whole spring in order for visitors to have more time to enjoy the beautiful and marvelous style of the complex. Since the opening of the festival, and even during the Tet holiday, many local people as well as visitors come to Bai Dinh. Almost all caves and pagodas are covered with incense-smoke; the festive atmosphere seems to overwhelm this peaceful rural area.
The ceremonies at Bai Dinh Pagoda are quite solemn since it does not only worship the Buddha and Gods, but it also attach with many important historical events of the nation with famous people like Quang Trung, Dinh Bo Linh, etc. That’s why the ceremony is more solemn. There are the cult for the nature, religion, Buddhism and even Confucianism. In festival days, local people carry out the ceremony to greet the God out from the grotto. The ceremony is accompanied by many people performing the traditional musical instrument or holding flags; besides, the villagers both young and old do take part in this ceremony.
During the festival days, you can join in a mixed atmosphere where the youth is so energetic, the elderly is so sincere and the tourists are so happy. The complex seems to be more crowded with many groups of people stay in lines to visit the pagodas. You may not be familiar with all people here but they are all very friendly. The greeting of “Nammo a di da Phat” seems to be the most common words to be heard between strangers when they encounter each other. The atmosphere there is likely to connect people closer. It reflects the friendliness and hospitability of local people.
Bai Dinh Mountain is formed by two bow-shaped ranges of mountain which face the west. These mountains cover a three-hectare-large valley called Thung Chua (Chua Valley). Passing through more than 300 rock steps, you will reach the Bai Dinh Mountain top, you will reach a cavern. It is said that “Mr. Red Face”, the guard of the pagoda complex is also worshipped in a grotto on the path leading to the cavern on top.
Tourists then reach an intersection: on the right hand side is the cavern which worships the Buddha, on the left hand side is another cavern which worship the Fairy. Step in and you will be impressed by the solemn statues situated within fanciful scenery; you may feel like you are in a fairy land with illusory thought.
After that, tourists will have chance to visit another grotto which worship a talented general of Hung King named Than Cao Son. Continue to move forward, tourists will reach a green valley with many species of precious herbs which had once been used by Thanh Nguyen (Nguyen God) to produce magical medicines. Today, such kinds of herbs are still used by local people for medical purpose.
There are many other caverns and grottos to be visited like Tien Cavern (Fairy Cavern) with seven smaller caves inside. Bà Chúa Thượng Ngàn (Godess of the Forest) is worshipped here. There are fanciful stalactites around, each of which can be named by the imagination of tourists. The time has left its remains on these stalactites; and now they have become wonderful works of the nature.
Coming to Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival, tourists will find that there is a love for nature in this historical festival. It is a chance for each visitor to memorize back to the past when their forefather started to set up the country.
There are many activities like ném còn (throwing ball), play cards, tug of war) to take place during the festival days which attract the participation of many tourists. Many traditional games which are held during the Tet holiday are also interesting for visitors.