Nationally-recognized Ponagar festival opens

Tuoi Tre

Updated : 05/01/2013 14:44 GMT + 7

The Ponagar fest, the biggest cultural event held by Cham people in the south of the central region, kicked off on Apr 30 in Khanh Hoa’s Nha Trang coastal city.

The event also earned the recognition as an intangible national heritage the same day.

From Apr 30 to May 2 when the festival takes place, the Ponagar tower is open free of charge to tourists. More than 100 groups from across the country have registered to take part in the event.

The festival features such rituals as dressing up the Ponagar goddess, requiems, floating flowers and colored lanterns, processions and offerings to the goddess and Cham traditional dances.

Roughly 60,000 pilgrims and visitors, almost double last year’s number, are expected to join the four-day festival, as this year the event coincides with public holidays Apr 30 and May 1, said Le Van Hoa, from the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

According to Tran Manh Cuong, vice head of the department, the 1,200-year-old Ponagar tower was recognized as a national historical relic in 1979.

The fest, held annually in the third month of the lunar calendar, is to pay tribute to goddess Yan Po Nagar, or Thien Y Thanh Mau in Vietnamese, who is identified with the Hindu goddesses Bhagavati and Mahishasuramardini.

As legend has it, Thien Y Thanh Mau taught locals how to do farming, weaving and knitting along with several other vocations to fend for themselves and safeguarded them from calamities and wars.