Time: The 20th day of the eighth lunar month – the death anniversary of Tran Hung Dao.
Place: Kiep Bac Temple Hai Duong Province, the estate and garrisoning camp of Tran Hung Dao after the first victory over the Yuan invaders in 1258.
Objects of worship: Tran Hung Dao.
Characteristics: Fighting in the Luc Dau River, boat racing.
Every year, from the 15th to 20th days of the eighth lunar month, tens of thousands of people throughout the country flock to attend the Kiep Bac Temple Festival.
The temple is situated in Hung Dao Commune, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province. It is dedicated to Tran Quoc Tuan, the eminent marshal of the Tran Dynasty, who led the Vietnamese people in the three successful resistance wars against the Yuan-Mongolian invaders in the 13th century. Many people have said that he was also a sorcerer and herbalist. Thanks to his great deeds, he was consecrated as Saint Tran.
The magnificent festival is solemnly organized. In the early morning of the 20th day, the on-land processions start off from Van Yen, Duoc Son and Con Son to approach the temple. The procession on the river will be destined for Tran Xa Lagoon, then following the Thuong River to the quay in front of the temple. At the appointed time, all processions will gather correctly in lines at the entrance gate of the temple to carry out the incense-offering rite. The chief officiant delivers a speech to praise the great contributions of Tran Hung Dao and the historical significance of the anti-Yuan-Mongolian resistance wars under the Tran Dynasty. He also gives a funeral oration to Saint Tran Hung Dao. Then, all people will offer incense sticks.
The incense-offering rite is followed by a solemn major ceremony and a palanquin procession. The votive tablet of Saint Tran is placed in a splendid red-lacquered gold-gilded palanquin surrounded by some dragon and lion dancers. The procession moves to the riverbank. In such an imposing environment, the audience can recall a big operation of the Dai Viet heroic army under the leadership of the genius marshal prior to the famous water battle on the Bach Dang River seven centuries ago (1288).
The procession embarks on the boat ornamented with votive flags and flowers. The Saint’s palanquin is transported on a dragon boat. The fleet leaves the quay in the resounding accompaniment of drumbeats, gong and horn sounds, and the admiring acclamation of the audience. When the fleet moors, the procession returns the temple.
One of the most attractive performances in the festival is the race of dozens of boats on the Luc Dau River.