The Giong Festival is held annually in Phu Dong village, Gia Lam district, Hanoi, on the 9th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar. The date commemorates Saint Giong who defeated An invaders. In order to show their gratitude to the hero of Giong Village, who sacrificed his life to fight the invaders, people have proclaimed him Saint Giong.
Preparation for the festival occurs from the 1st day of the 3rd month to the 5th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar.
The festival is celebrated from the 6th to 12th of the fourth lunar month with a series of processions, rituals and performances, each taking place on a particular day. On the 6th, there is a ceremony of carrying water from the well at the Mother Temple to the Upper Temple. On the 7th, flags are carried to the Mother Temple. On the same day offerings of boiled rice and salted egg-plants are also carried to the Upper Temple, a practice that commemorates the agricultural meals of early times. Another vestige of ancient times occurs at night on this day when young men and women run after one another on the dyke of the Red River. Also on the 7th day, a water puppet performance is held in front of the Phu Dong Temple. On the 8th day, 28 women are selected to represent the generals of the An invaders.
The main day of the festival is the 9th of the fourth lunar month. On this day flags are carried from the Mother Temple to the Upper Temple and sacrifices are made to the genie. The guilds perform ritual dances and songs and there is a tiger catching show. Fighting against the Yin invaders is re-enacted and there is a solemn march of the Van Lang army. Finally, the two battles against the invaders at Dong
Dam and Soi Bia are symbolised by flag dances and victorious feasts.
On the 10th day the “troops” are reviewed and the invader-generals, after “being defeated”, give offerings to Giong. On the 11th, the ceremony of cleaning and washing weapons with holy water takes place. On the 12th, a procession goes to inspect the battlefield. On this day of the festival, tribute is given to the gods of heaven and earth.
At the Giong Festival, people can make connections with their neighborhood, with relations between the individuals within a community, and with the past and present. This festival blends together the traditions of love for the motherland and the preservation of cultural heritage.