Tranh temple and the story of the Tranh River Genie
Hai Duong province has rich historical and cultural traditions and a number of festivals that reflect folk beliefs of the Red River Delta. Tranh Temple in Ninh Giang district is a famous and holy site.
The temple’s architecture is built in a typical Vietnamese architectural style.
Tranh temple, or Mandarin Tuan Tranh temple in Tranh Xuyen village has a legend. Once upon a time, there were two giant snakes in the Tranh River who disturbed local people.
One day the snakes kidnapped the wife of Mandarin Tuan Tranh. Furious, he asked the King of the River to punish and expel the snakes from the river. The King granted his request and the river returned to being peaceful. Local people built the temple to express their gratitude to the Mandarin, who is now the Tranh River Genie.
The first temple built beside the Tranh River dates back to the time of the
Hung Kings, the founders of Vietnam. In the 19th century under the Nguyen Dynasty, the temple was upgraded with intricate carvings and decorations. The statue of Mandarin Tuan Tranh was enlarged.
Because of repeated floods and erosion, in 1935 local people built a new temple in Tranh Xuyen village. In the late 1960s, the temple was moved to a sport about 300 meters from the first temple. Nguyen Tat Trong, Deputy Director of the Tranh Temple Relic Management Board, said since then the temple has undergone 4 restorations:
“It is an ancient temple with a 3-door gate, a front hall, a main hall and a back hall. This is a wooden temple with outstanding carvings in the Nguyen dynasty style (1802-1945). On the left of the temple are a guest house and a stone lake. Though the temple was moved three times, local people managed to preserve the statue of the Mandarin and other sacred statues”.
The temple organizes two festivals a year. The first festival is held between the 10th and 20th day of the second lunar month. The second festival is held from the 20th to the 25th day of the 8th lunar month. The temple welcomes a large number of visitors and pilgrims each year.
Mr Trong said, “In addition to the two main festivals, the temple hosts another big party in the 5th lunar month, which recreates the banquet offered by the Mandarin. During the party, ceremonial singing is performed, including 36 songs for going into a trance ritual”.
Mandarin Tuan Tranh died in Lang Son province. Artists and other residents of the two provinces participate together in the festivities dedicated to the Mandarin.
Nguyen Van Thanh, Head of the Culture and Information Department of Ninh Giang district, said "Our two localities have a very close relationship. The festivals allow people of Hai Duong province to better understand the cultural attractions of Lang Son.
Visitors from Lang Son learn more about our culture. During the festivals, we organize popular folk games like wrestling, cock fighting, and tug of war".
In 2009, the temple was declared a national historic heritage. In recent years, Ninh Giang authorities and residents have paid greater attention to preserving and promoting Tranh Temple’s historical value.
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