Keo Pagoda is located in Vu Nhat commune, Thai Binh province. This great pagoda was built as early as 17th century in honour of a monk whose name has been recorded in books: Duong Khong Lo. This man was originally a fisherman, then entered religion and attained Nirvana. He knew magic and once came to the capital to cure King Ly Thanh Tong so he was honored as the teacher of princes. He had Nghiem Quang Pagoda built and later renamed it Than Quang (Keo Pagoda).
The Keo Pagoda festival is annually held for three days, from 13th to 15th of the 9th lunar month to worship Buddhist Duong Khong Lo. He died on the 3rd of the sixth month, the festival of Keo Pagoda starts on the 13 of the 9th month, 100 days after his death. The 14th of the 9th lunar month is his birthday. The festival lasts one more day, through the 15th because it is the day in the middle of the lunar month, usually marked by Buddhists.
On the 13th, the festival begins with a procession to remind people of the anniversary of Buddhist Duong Khong Lo. Then a boat race and a competition of literary recitation are held in the afternoon. When the night falls, it is time for a trumpet and drum competition.
On the morning of the 14th, Khong Lo's birthday is celebrated. It is followed by a procession including a red and white horse pulling a carriage. The carriage is accompanied by eight flag bearers and 42 men carrying bat but luu bo, a classical Vietnamese weapon. In the afternoon of the 14th, in Gia Roi temple, people hold a worshipping ceremony. On the 15th, all ceremonies continue in a more entertaining manner with more traditional games such as duck catching, rice cooking competition, firecrackers hurling contest.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Oct 09, 2012 Oct 27.
The Oc Om Boc Festival is a religious service to worship the moon god of the Kho Me minority group. The festival is usually held on December 15th of the Buddhist Calendar, or in October following the Gregorian Calendar. At this religious festival, people thank the moon god who brings about good crops, provides abundant fish in the rivers, and maintains the health of human beings. During the night of the full moon, as the moon appears, people prepare a feast in the front yard of the pagoda or in their houses. A plate of green rice flakes, ripe bananas, fresh peeled coconuts, mangoes and other dishes are served to the moon god.
After the ceremony, the elders ask the children of the house to sit flat on the ground with crossed legs, clasping their hands. The elders then take a handful of green rice flakes and feed all of the children at the same time. People also release paper lanterns into the sky and banana-tree ferries, attached with colorful lights and loaded with offerings into the channels and rivers accompanied by the sound of music. The custom of releasing flying lights and floating ferries is believed to sweep away the darkness and humidity of the rainy season. On the following morning of the full moon, the Ngo Boat Race is held. This crowded festival is well prepared and deemed to be a great cultural event, drawing hundreds of thousands of participants. In Kho Me language, the Ngo Boat is called "Tuk Ngo". This boat is a pirogue, chiseled from a hole in a trunk of good wood , in a lozenge shape. It has a curved head and tail; therefore, it needs skillful sailors to manage it in a competition. Otherwise, it is likely to be capsized.
The racing spectacle takes place in a very serious manner, with the participation of thousands of viewers who stand along a track that stretches for kilometres. The boat master, standing in the middle part of the junk, encourages his teammates with a light gong. When the first boat reaches the finish line, a crowd of people simultaneously scream. They believe that they have just completed their responsibility to the moon god.