Coming to Can Tho - the land of holding comers' hearts, tourists will not only have chance to enjoy beautiful sceneries, savor a variety of delicious dishes but also witness long-lasting and sacred festival of locals, among which Ong Pagoda Festival is the most outstanding.
Built in 1894, Ong Pagoda used to be Quang Trieu Premise (a premise of Chinese merchants in the 20th century). This is the oldest pagoda in Can Tho of characterized Chinese architectural style with porcelain decoration imitating Chinese legends and classic references on the roof and two sides of gates.
Ong Pagoda is a valuable architectural works in terms of history and culture, associating with the development of Can Tho. Therefore, Ong Pagoda Festival has significant meaning to people in Can Tho. Ong Pagoda worships Guan Gong (a famous general in Three Kingdoms Period). In both Chinese and Vietnamese’s belief, Guan Gong is the symbol of Benevolence – Righteousness –Proprieties – Wisdom – Fidelity, so they adore and worship Guan Gong as a Saint. Besides, Ong Pagoda worships Holy Mother and Goddess of Mercy. Ong Pagoda has three main ceremonies of worshipping Guan Gong (on the 26th of the 6th Lunar month), Holy Mother (on the 23rd of the 3rd Lunar month) and a thanksgiving ceremony at the end of the year. On these days, the Hoa, locals and tourists come there to offer incense and flowers and fried pig and pray for safe and sound.
The most quintessential activity of Ong Pagoda Festival is the lantern auction ceremony taking place every 10 year. This activity aims at raising fund to help charitable organizations and orphans, to build cemeteries and schools. These six-sided lanterns are decorated by images of beautiful sceneries and wishes, 6 dragons covered with gold at 6 corners with their heading together, their tales making the bottom of the lantern. When the lamp inside the lantern is heated, the lantern will automatically rotate slowly making a magical and eye -catching image.
The lantern auction ceremony takes place at the central sanctum of Ong Pagoda. Every participant wishes to have at least one every-ten-year lantern because it will bring luckiness, success and wealth as well as share their luckiness to the unlucky.
Each festival, there are many entertaining activities of lion and dragon dancing, folk singing contest, Tuong singing contributing to preserve and promote the traditional art performance of Chinese and enriching Vietnamese culture.