A visit to Ba Chua Xu Temple might be interesting for those who want to discover Vietnam religionism, another hidden beauty of Vietnam. It is located on Sam Mountain, Vinh Te Commune, Chau Doc, An Giang.
Ba Chua Xu or Chua Xu Thanh Mau (Holy Mother of the Realm) is a prosperity goddess of southern Vietnam’s Thanism. She is a tutelary of business, health, and a protector of the Vietnamese border.
In the beginning Ba Chua Xu Temple was simply constructed with bamboo and leaves at a sunken land West of Sam mountain, with its back against the mountain. In 1870 the temple was built with bricks and again renovated in 1962 with stone and double tiles. It was enlarged in 1965 with fence erected round the main worshiping facility. The temple was greatly upgraded in 1972 until its completion in 1976, making its present features. Architecture of the temple has a shape of a tower with three stories and three -level roof. Inside the temple there is a main worshipping altar with a statue of the Regional Goddess. Skillful decorations inside the temple bear Indian artistic traits.
Many stories are around its origin without any authentication. Basing on the most popular legend, in beginning of nineteenth century, locals found a lady statue which might be dated from 6th century in the forest. Dozens of strong men could not move it but nine virgin girls as warned in a dream of a child. The villagers then built a temple to worship in the lady’s honor with the hope that she would bring them health, luck, happiness as well as better crops.
Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival
Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival is the biggest folk festivity of Southern Vietnam. The festival is held annually from the 23rd to the 27th of the fourth lunar month with the ceremonies as follows:
The statue of Ba Chua Xu washing rite
During the days of the festival, various rituals are performed. On the first night, the statue of Ba Chua is bathed in perfumed water and she is also made to wear fresh robes for the occasion. Then Ba Chua’s discarded garments are cut into little bits and handed out among the worshippers. These are considered lucky charms to keep the possessor in good health and drive away evil spirits.
Tuc Yet rite
Tue Yet Rite commences after the ceremony of washing. During this ritual of the Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival, the worshippers appeal for Ba Chua’s recommendations to the heaven. A grand parade of dragon dance is presented along with it and is followed by a chanting ritual in Ba Chua’s temple. Lastly the Duc Boi rite is performed by a man from the village, who sings aloud for the well being of the country and mankind.
Participants dressed in smart traditional costumes stand on the two sides and the master of ceremonies stands in front of the statue of Ba Chua. The offerings include a white pig, a dish of pig’s blood and a little hair, called mao huyet, a tray of sticky rice, a tray of fruits, a tray of areca and betel, a dish of rice and salt, which are place on a table before the statue. The master of ceremonies and notables burn incense on the altar.
Xay Chau rite
The Xay Chau rite is performed after the Tuc Yet rite. In order to prepare for this rite, people replace the table before the altar with a drum. The master of ceremonies holds two drumsticks and says his prayers before the altar. After that, he dips a branch of willow into a water bowl on the left of the altar, and sprinkles water on the floor. When he finishes the ritual, he put the bowl and the willow branch on the altar, and beats three salvos of drumbeat to begin the hat boi (classical opera) performance.
Chanh Te rite
The Chanh Te rite takes place at 4 a.m of the 26th with the rituals similar to Tuc Yet rite. On the afternoon of the 27th day, the four tablets are brought back to Thoai Ngoc Hau Mausoleum, marking the end of the festival.
Moreover, during the festival days, many traditional cultural activities are organised, including unicorn dance, dance with dishes and cups. Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival is rich in the national identity and the southern colours. Peace and tranquility, Ba Chua Xu Temple is one of the major religious sites in the Mekong Delta and attracts thousands of travellers who are flocking to An Giang Province to experience the one week festival and ask the famous goddess of wealth for a prosperous life.
A pilgrimage to Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival will help you to experience the local culture. It is a very colorful and attractive festival attended by people from all over Vietnam and is surely a treat for the tourists.