The Po Nagar festival
The Po Nagar festival is one of the Cham festival in Khánh Hòa province. It’s the biggest traditional festival of year in Khánh Hòa province. For honoring Po Nagar, a deity, who help, bless and bring happiness to everyone.
The Po Nagar temple was belong to Champa empire. When Vietnamese conquered Champa, Cham territory unified to Vietnamese territory. Vietnamese had a custom of God Mother worshiping (like Mother Nature, mother of Children…) and Po Nagar became Thiên Y A Na the God Mother of Vietnamese. The legend of Po Nagar was told in Vietnamese’s way and went into the spiritual life of Vietnamese that manifested in God mother worshiping and through the traditional festivals.
Annually, from 20 – 23 March (lunar calendar), the Po Nagar festival is celebrated in the area of Po Nagar temple area. This is the biggest traditional festivals in the area of Southern of the Central Vietnam. Po Nagar festival attracted a lot of Cham, Vietnamese, Chinese and travelers. They came and joined the festival with enthusiasm.
For the beginning, it’s Mộc Dục ceremony ( the ceremony of having the Po Nagar statue bath), the ceremony was hold at noon, 12:00 on March 20 (lunar calendar).
Tế Gia Quan ceremony: Po Nagar statue was cleaned with perfume, dressed clothes in royal style.
Ceremony of Peace: on March 22 (lunar calendar). The Lion dance opens the festival officially. Pilgrims worship Po Nagar till night falls and from 23:00 – 24:00, it’s the time for the ceremony of Thanks giving of Po Nagar at the main tower. The traditional dance with balls comes after the ceremony to honor the God Mother, Po Nagar.
The Main Ceremony of Worshiping: from 4:00 AM March 23 (lunar calendar). The content of this ceremony is welcoming the deities to the festival, enjoying the tributes of pilgrims. This is the most important ceremony of the festival. The main ceremony has many activities: speech, ceremony music, balls dance, singing, traditional singing to honor Po Nagar, these activities attracted people to the festival. Festival closure happens on March 24.
Nha Trang city is characterized by the Po Nagar festival, that is celebrated solemnly in Nha Trang every year. The Po Nagar festival depict the preservation of intangible culture and manifest the traditional activities through ceremonies, festivals.
Po Nagar festival was recognized as National festival in 2001.