Incense offering ceremony at Thăng Long Imperial Citadel to pay tribute to the ancestral kings and talents

On the morning of 16 February 2016 at the Dragon Steps of the Kính Thiên Palace of Thăng Long Imperial Citadel, the Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre Centre worked with the Thăng Long Cultural Heritage Conservation Association to organize an incense offering ceremony to pay tribute to the ancestral kings and talents who were of meritorious service to the nation. This is a traditional cultural activity as part of the Thăng Long Imperial Citadel Spring Festival in celebration of the Party and the New Year 2016.

The program features various rituals like procession, incense offering, and worshipping.

Since 7:00 a.m a procession of more than 400 gathered in front of Đoan Môn Gate before entering the Dragon Court of the Kính Thiên Palace to offer incense according to traditional customs.

The program commenced with a dragon dance performed by artists from Triều Khúc Village (Tân Triều – Thanh Trì), recreating the image of the dragon and fairy descendants in hope of propitious rain and wind, prosperity and abundance, peace and tranquility in an effort to champion the spirit of nobility and the national tradition of gratitude. The dance was followed by the Thăng Long Drum Performance by artist from Yên Hòa Village of Cầu Giấy District, demonstrating the glorious spirit of Thăng Long – Hà Nội as a city of a thousand year-old history. The dance troupe of the Triều Khúc Village also entertained the audience with the cheerful tambourine dance of Trống bồng, which is performed annually at the Triều Khúc Village Festival. Young men dressed up in women costumes dance gracefully as they pat on the tambourines carried in front of their bellies, their faces beaming with joy and elegance.

The incense offering ceremony was solemnly carried out by the group of male and female ritualists from Triều Khúc Village (Tân Triều – Thanh Trì) and Yên Hòa Communal House (Cầu Giấy District), Sở Thượng Village in Yên Sở – Hoàng Mai, Vân Canh Village in Hoài Đức, etc. in order to show the reverence and gratitude to the benevolent kings and talented courtiers who contributed to the making of the Thăng Long culture during the early days of the Đại Việt civilization.

In the sacred spirit of the first days of the new year, the incense offering ceremony at Thăng Long Imperial Citadel was a meaningful activity to pay homage to the forefathers of the Vietnamese and champion the traditional values of Thăng Long – Hà Nội. Together with other features like exhibitions, water puppetry, folk music of ca trù, hát văn, xẩm xoan it created a cheerful and joyous atmosphere that appealed to the new year sightseeing public.

Some photos of the Incense Offering Ceremony in the Year of the Monkey, 2016:


Incense ceremony at the Dragon Steps of Kính Thiên Palace


The spiritual dance of “sênh tiền”


A traditional octet (bát âm)


Dragon Dance


Dragon Dance


Drum festival of Thăng Long


The tambourine dance of the Triều Khúc village

Kim Yến
Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre

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