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Traditional Festivals
Visiting Tien La to commemorate the merits of the female general Bat Nan

Date: 28/11/2013

    The annual big festivals include: Thượng nguyên festival (from the 1st to the 4th day of the first lunar month), the edict-like announcement about festival opening ceremony - water procession (on the 10th day of the third lunar month); the great festival day of anniversary of death (from the 17th day to the 18th day of the third lunar month); great festival of birthday (on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month); the festival to commemorate the uprising (on the 10th day of the eleventh lunar month).

        Tien La Temple Festival takes place in the middle of the third lunar month annually with the unique and supernatural offering ceremony., The temple opens not only on the occasion of the festival but also all year around to welcome visitors from everywhere, especially researchers, teachers and students coming to go sightseeing, commemorate the general heroine as well as review together our ancestors’ glorious time against our nation’s enemies.

         Tien La Temple Festival takes place in the middle of the third lunar month annually with the unique and supernatural offering ceremony. The temple opens Not only on the occasion of the festival but also all year around to welcome visitors from everywhere, especially researchers, teachers and students coming to go sightseeing, commemorate the general heroine as well as review together the glorious time against our nation’s enemies of our ancestors.

             Just taking the route from Thai Binh province to Doan Hung commune, Hung Ha district, it is about more than 30 km from Thai Binh City, we can easily find out a magnificent temple hidden itself in the rows of green longan trees. It is Tien La temple (known as “Tiên La linh từ”) - a national historic relic. It was built a long time ago to worship Bat Nan (Bát Nạn) Vu Thi Thinh (usually called Thuc Nuong), a female general of Trung Trac, Trung Nhi who led the struggle for our freedom then. Whether on the occasion of the festival or in normal days (especially at weekends), there have been still a lot of visitors here. They come to learn about history and architecture of the temple or related legends through the stories of guard and local residents. 

            Situated on top of a high mound with a total area of about 4,000 m2, Tien La Temple consists of many works such as gate system, the front house called Đại Bái (known as “Tiền tế”), the middle house called Trung tế, the central temple called Thượng điện or Harem, etc. Passing Tam quan ngoại gate is Tam quan nội in the yard, and then Lầu cô and Lầu cậu are at the two sides of the yard. When visitors enter Tiền tế building consisting of 5 compartments, they can see horizontal lacquered boards with old parallel sentences praising for the Trung Emperor and dignity, talent and beauty of General Bat Nan. Next, Đệ nhị building was built with stone which consists of 16 large stone piles, 8 stone rafters, and 8 stone trusses. All of rafters and bars were finely and skillfully carved. This building was decorated with finely carved wooden articles, such subjects as four animals (dragon, unicorn, tortoise, phoenix) (carved in 4 columns), happy occasions (carved in 12 columns), four plants (pine, chrysanthemum, bamboo, apricot) (carved in 8 rafters) and strips of flowers and seal characters (carved in 8 stone trusses). Harem is the last building in the temple with 3 compartments which was deeply located inside. There is a very precious horizontal lacquered boards in the building roof carved with 4 words of “Anh linh vạn cổ”. An altar is placed in the middle compartment of harem. Above it, there are a throne and the statue of General Bat Nan Vu Thi Thuc. The surrounding area is used to worship her generals and soldiers. The compartment on the left is used to worship her father and the compartment on the right is used to worship her mother. In addition, there remains many worship things (made out of bronze, pottery, and precious wooden in Le dynasty) with highly aesthetic value, historical documents and stories of the gods from Le Dynasty to Nguyen Dynasty, stone stales and bells which raise the value of the temple.

            The story of General Vu Thi Thuc that handed down from generation to generation among the common people is as same as the content of story of the god in the temple. Legend has it that Vu Thi Thuc was born in a family of traditional herb doctor under Phuong Lau (now known as Phu Ninh district - Phu Tho province), whose father and mother names are Nguyen Cong Chat and Hoang Thi Mau. She was famous for her beauty, talent, love to other people and love to her country. When Thuc Nuong was 18 years old, she was engaged to Pham Danh Huong, the country chief of Nam Chan. While they were preparing for their wedding day, suddenly unfortunate thing happened. At that time, the Chinese Han Dynasty ruled over our country as a colonial power. We had been suffering under the harsh rule of a Chinese governor called To Dinh. He was eager for feminine beauty, greedy for money and very fierce. Because he was eager for Thuc Nuong’s beauty and talent, he sought to put her father and her fiancé in jail with the aim of forcing her to get married to him. But he failed. Therefore he sought to kill her father and her fiancé and forced his soldiers to hunt down Thuc Nuong. She helped her mother to escape from her countryside, pretended to accept to marry him but secretly found a way to run away. After one day and night for rowing boat with her sword, she came to Tien La pagoda and temporarily lived here. Because the desire to revenge the people and her relatives, she rallied their troops to fight against North invaders and proclaimed herself as “The General Bat Nan”. Her troop was becoming more and more powerful. They killed a lot of enemy’s soldiers. When she was heard from The Trung sisters’ uprising, she led her troop to join this army and was granted as “General Dong Nhung”. Our people uprising led by The Trung sisters completely won in the spring of 40 A.D. After victory, The Trung sisters reigned as queens to the country and rewarded her soldiers. “Bat Nan general” was rewarded 1000 “quan tiền” (franc). Tien La village- the troop base was called “đất thang mộc” and villagers were abolished the hated tribute taxes. 

            After heavy failure, in April 42 A.D, Han dynasty sent Ma Vien forces to recapture Vietnam and retaliate against the Trung queen. Bat Nan general, along with Da Cuong troops, accompanied the Trung sisters’ army against the enemy. The enemy was so strong that our troops had to retreat gradually… In late 43, Hai Ba Trung’s resistance against the enemy invasion was badly defeated. To protect their honor, and to elude ridicule, the two queens committed suicide by drowning themselves into Hát River. Bat Nan and Da Cuong troops had to come back Tien La for standing her ground but finally Tien La base was captured. In the last battle, Bat Nan general and her soldiers sacrificed themselves gravely in Kim Quy mound on March 17th, 43 A.D. To commemorate Bat Nat general and her loyal accompanies’ deaths, people built a temple in the place where they sacrificed. 

            Throughout historical changes, even being affected by war and extreme weather, Tien La temple has been preserved and repaired by the state and residents so that it becomes bigger and more beautiful in terms of the location and the architecture as well- an extremely attractive destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. On the occasion of the middle of the third lunar month annually, Tien La temple festival is held to commemorate the merits of the female general Bat Nan by Hung Ha district People's Committee, Doan Hung Commune People's Committee and the local people.

Ha Dung
 
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