The temple worships Saint Tan Vien, one of the four immortals in the Vietnamese popular mythos. Also called "the Palace of the East", it is one of four temples in Son Tay region dedicated to this legendary figure. Phung Minh Son, Head of Va temple management board, says: "Our temple on a hill looks like a turtle turning to the sun, in the middle of an ironwood forest of about 6 hectares. There are nearly 250 ironwood trees, of which 95 are listed as heritages. In the 16th and 17th century, the temple was very rudimentary made of bamboo and straw. But in the 18th century, it was rebuilt in the form of the current temple.”
The temple has existed since the Chinese colonization of Tang, as evidenced by a stele built in 1883 in the reign of King Tu Duc. Despite its modest size, the place was sacred from the beginning.
Several other renovations were subsequently completed, including the largest in 1902. The place of worship today extends over 2,000m2, surrounded by a laterite wall two meters high. Following the precepts of traditional Vietnamese architecture, it lies on a North-South axis and its main gate faces Mount Tan Viên in Ba Vi district. The main gate consists of three wooden columns, which rest on a large laterite foundation. Just next to it are two towers facing each other, enclosing a bell and a drum. Their octagonal roofs recall the Khuê Van Cac pavilion at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The courtyard in front of the temple is subtly decorated with five bats surrounding a round window, a sign of happiness. Phùng Minh Sơn explains: "Our temple is the main place of worship dedicated to Saint Tan Vien. The Upper, Lower, and Central Temple are supplementary. Và temple also worships the mother goddesses and three deities of Mount Tan Viên and many other Taoist deities. "
The annual temple festival coincides with the first full moon of the lunar calendar. The most awaited ceremony is the procession of the ancestral tablets of the three deities of Mount Tan Vien (Saint Tan Vien and his two cousins). from the Và temple to Dôi temple in the neighboring province of Vinh Phuc across the Red River and then back to Va temple. Phung Minh Son says of the temple festivals: "The celebrations fall in the spring and autumn. The first takes place over three days, starting on the 15th day of the first lunar month. This is the most awaited and the most popular. The second festival takes place on the 15th day of the 9th lunar month. It always respects the ancestral tradition. Every year, thousands of pilgrims come to the temple and form procession three or four kilometers long. “
The autumn temple festival includes a ceremony in which 99 large white fish are caught in the Tich River are dedicated as offerings to Saint Tan Vien. The fish offering comes from an ancient legend that when he was teaching the villagers to fish, Saint Tan Vien caught 100 fish, including a pregnant female Clarias, who was released in a spirit of charity. That fish had nine baby fish who later turned to stone and headed to Va temple to thank Tan Vien.
During the holidays, the temple welcomes visitors from the eight villages of Son Tây and Vinh Phuc and from all over Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Binh, a resident of Son Tây, says: "I never miss the two festivals of the temple. I really like its quiet and serene atmosphere. Tourists come here not just because of the fame of the temple, but to enjoy its architecture and magnificent view. "
Vinh PhongNguồn: vovworld.vn