Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 10: Honoring the Ancestor
Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures.
There is a Vietnamese proverb which says "when drinking water, remember the source."
As both our childrens' birthplaces are in Phu Tho province, touring the Hung Kings Citadel and Au Co temple complex is an especially poignant way to both remember and return to the source. It is a special place for us-- as it is the source of ancient Viet culture, the birthplace of a nation and our amazing children.
On December 6 of 2012, UNESCO recognized the Hung Kings worshipping ritual held in Phu Tho province as an intangible cultural heritage. It is the only ritual so recognized by UNESCO.
The revered site is only about 120 kilometers from Hanoi, yet not one many tourists ever visit. The afternoon we made the climbs, we were some of the the only visitors to the site.
Vietnam's creation story is the union of a fairy called Au Co and a dragon, Lac Long Quan, blessed with 100 children hatched from 100 eggs. The eldest, Hung Vuong, became the first King of Van Lang, Vietnam's first state.
Another 17 Hung Kings in succession reigned. Much later in the 15th century, a temple was built on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phong Chau district, Phu Tho province, for religious ceremonies to honor the countries ancient ancestors and kings.
These days the Hung Kings festival is a national event. Every year on the 10th day of the third lunar month these temples fill with pilgrims.
Our guide, Huong, brings us to the Au Co temple first since earlier in the day we had visited our children's orphanages. He assures us the journey will be a fitting way to give thanks to the Holy Mother of all Vietnamese people.
We climb hundreds of steps leading from serene and lovely pagodas to Au Co's Ancestral Temple high atop the mountain covered along the way with beautiful trees and stunning views of neighboring peaks and vistas. It is ours alone to enjoy as we light incense, bow respectfully and offer prayers of thanksgiving to both Au Co and our Blessed Mother, Mary.
It is nearly dark by the time we arrived at the Hung Kings citadel with only my husband, John, our guide, Huong and me making the arduous climb. We ascended the already measured steps -- some 225 to the lower temple, another 168 to the middle temple, and finally another 132 to reach the High Temple where the Kings observed their sacred rites.
It was, for us, a chance to reconnect our children with an honored part of Vietnamese history; to share a path taken by their fore bearers throughout the centuries. It is one of the things I like best about Asian societies -- this remembering!
Family Trip by Kathleen: