From the 4th to the 6th of May (lunar calendar) every year, at Linh Son Tien Thach Tu in Ba Den Mountain, the Via Ba Feast attracts a large number of visitors to pilgrimage. On August 14, 2019, “Via Ba Feast of Linh Son Holy Mother – Ba Den Mountain” was honored to receive the Decision of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Accordingly, the Via Ba Feast of Linh Son Holy Mother – Ba Den Mountain officially became a National Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is recognition for the unique values that this festival brings.
Via Ba Feast begins with Moc Duc ceremony (statue bathing) which is conducted at 12:00 on the May 4th (lunar calendar) at Dien Ba. The ceremony takes place in a solemn atmosphere, the doors are closed to prevent people from entering, the candles are almost turned off, only six women, including the temple’s three nuns are allowed to stay in the temple to perform the rite. First of all, people come in front of her statue to light incense for the ceremony, ask for permission to bathe and change clothes for her. After half an incense stick is burnt out, under the instruction of an elderly woman in the group, the group begins to remove the coat of the statue. They use scented ladles made from lotus flower, jasmine, plumeria, cinnamon, aromatic oil… to flush and bathe the statue. After the showering ends, the clean towels with aroma are used to dry the statue. The statue is put on a new outfit. When the ritual just ends, they lights incense and bows to her. At this time, the incenses and candles in the temple are also lit and the temple doors are opened for pilgrims to worship.
During the 4th day at Dien Ba, there are folk rituals including welcoming puppets performance, the singing of “Dia Nang”, flower offering dance, five-primary-colour tray offering, toy dancing (jar dance, water hyacinth dance, lily dance…)… the 5th day is her official feast day as well as Ba Mountain festival day. The most important ritual is “the 10 offerings” that means offering her 10 dishes including incenses, lamps, fruits, tea and cakes, wine… On this day, the monks take turns chanting continuously in front of her altar.
The 6th day is dedicated to the forsanke spirits, people who died unfairly and sacrifice for the public. On this day, the monk will read the supreme penance for the forsanke spirits. In the afternoon after the noon ceremony, there is alms giving ceremony. At night, the monks continue to offer supreme prayers for the public.
However, when compared to the Buddhist worshiping ceremony in the Northern region, Via Ba feast is more joyful, because it has a modern orchestra, which acts as a light accompaniment for monks to make offerings to the Buddha.
The rituals in the Heritage of Via Ba feast not only attract religious people like Buddhists, but also attract ordinary people who are curious about this festival because of the joyful, lively atmosphere and present the simple wish of the public about a happy and full life.
Via Ba feast is one of the main annual festivals in Ba Den Mountain. If you have the opportunity to visit Tay Ninh during the lunar May, do not forget to schedule to attend Via Ba feast to enjoy the special features of this Heritage with your own eyes!