The annual Yen Tu Festival in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh opened with a ceremony on Feb. 12 (tenth day of the first lunar month).
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan beat the drum to launch the start of the festival. Prominent guests at the ceremony were Vice State President Nguyen Thi Doan, the Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s Executive Council, Most Venerable Thich Thanh Tu, Buddhist dignitaries, monks, nuns, followers and visitors. All joined in offering incense to King Tran Nhan Tong, who reigned over the country from 1279 to 1293 and then renounced the throne to devote his life to Buddhism. All present also joined another ceremony to pray for peace for the country and the citizens.
According to the organizing committee, the weather this year has been so pleasantly conducive that a large number of visitors are being drawn to the Festival.
The Tung lam tour Company is making use of the cable car system to serve tourists who want to visit the Dong pagoda on Bach Van Son Mountain. Unfortunately, the 70 cable cars are still unable to meet the tourist rush and hundreds of tourists have to walk up to the Dong pagoda.
Yen Tu has so far welcomed over 20,000 visitors since the first day of the lunar year and the festival will last through spring for three months. Last year the festival recorded over 2.1 million visitors according to Vu Van Khoan, Vice Director of the Managing Board of Yen Tu pagoda.
Yen Tu Mountain is located about 50km from Ha Long City. The winding route of the pilgrimage from the foot of the mountain to its peak is almost 30km. On the highest peak sits the Dong Pagoda, which is more than a kilometer above sea level.
The area’s natural beauty and awe-inspiring landscape in its surrounding setting of ancient pagodas and hermitages is said to be the reason that King Tran Nhan Tong renounced his throne to devote his life to Buddhism on this majestic Mountain. He crowned his son as heir to his empire and after becoming a monk he founded the Truc Lam meditation sect which later gave Yen Tu the recognition as the country’s leading centre for Buddhism.