The festival began with a ritual worshipping the guardian deity at the local communal house. A palanquin procession took offerings from the communal house to the Au Co Temple to pray for peace, good weather, prosperity and happiness.
The Au Co Temple festival marked the start of festive activities in Phu Tho in spring.
The temple was built under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong (15th century) and named a national historical and cultural relic site in 1991. On January 23, 2017, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the worship of Mother Au Co at the temple as part of the national intangible cultural heritage.
Legend has it that Au Co, who was a fairy, descended to earth on the seventh day of the first lunar month. She met with Lac Long Quan and gave birth to 100 sons. Fifty of them followed their father to the sea and the other half followed their mother to the mountains in the upstream Red River.
When they arrived in the area which is now Hien Luong commune, Au Co and her children were so captivated by the area’s fertility and stunning landscapes that they decided to settle there, and this was where the eldest son was crowned as Hung King – the legendary founder of Vietnam.
Mother Au Co taught locals to practise water rice cultivation, plant mulberry trees, and breed silk worms before returning to heaven on the 25th day of the twelfth lunar month.
Vietnam has about 8,000 festivals each year. Of which, nearly 90% are traditional festivals, 6% are religious ones and 4% are historical ones.
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