Quan The Am (Goddess of Mercy) Festival
Quan The Am (Goddess of Mercy) Festival, a big Buddhist festival, is celebrated annually at the Marble Mountains. It was first organised in 1962 for the inauguration of the Avalokitecvara Buddhisattava (Goddess of Mercy) statue in Hoa Nghiem Cave on Thuy Son, one of the five Marble Mountains.
After 2 years, the festival celebrated the inauguration of the Quan Am Pagoda in Quan Am Cave, where a stalactite shaped like Avalokitecvara had been found. After that, for some reason, the festival did not take place until the Avalokitecvara Spirit Anniversary in 1991 (Tan Mui Year). Ever since then, the festival has been held annually, starting on the 19th day of the second lunar month, and the celebrations last for 3 entire days.
The festival is in 2 parts: the ceremony and the gala activities. The ceremony has several main parts, including “Le khai kinh” (prayers for a peaceful and prosperous life), “Te xuan ”, and “Le ruoc anh sang”. The latter incorporates a torch parade, a sedan chair parade, lion dances, dragon dances and prayers for the “leading of the light”, which means a bright mind in Buddhism. A bright mind will accompany people with good souls and personalities, and help them to be charitable. Other parts of the ceremony include “Le trai dan chan te” (prayers for the peace of the soul and to worship ten creatures), and the parade of the Avalokitecvara Bodhisattva statue. The gala activities include many cultural activities such as “hat tuong”, “hat dan ca” (folk songs), dragon dances, flower garlands and coloured lanterns. There are also many traditional games including tug-of-war, boat racing and human chess.