UNESCO honors Vietnam's reverence for Hung Kings

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Thousands of Vietnamese at the Hung Temple to commemorate their founding fathers on the 10th day of the third lunar month

The worship of Hung Kings, annual rituals performed to commemorate Vietnam's founding fathers, has been recognized by UNESCO as intangible world heritage.

The recognition came on December 6, about 20 months after the northern province of Phu Tho submitted the application to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Vietnam News Agency reported on the same day.

Duong Van Quang, Vietnamese ambassador to the organization dubbed it "an honor to Vietnamese people in general and specifically Phu Tho locals."

"With the inscription of Hung Kings worship rituals in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the UNESCO wants not only to honor Vietnamese spiritual lives, but to encourage other peoples to conduct their ancestral worship," Vietnamnet quoted Quang as saying.

The rituals are closely related to the tradition of ancestor worship typical of Vietnamese families and play an important part in their spiritual lives.

They are traditionally practiced on the 10th day of the third lunar month, an occasion for millions of Vietnamese people to visit the Hung Temple at Phu Tho's Nghia Linh Mountain to acknowledge their origins and pray to the nation's ancestors for success, luck and health.

According to Vietnamese legend, 18 Hung Kings ruled Van Lang, the first state in Vietnamese history, from 2879-258 BC and the first Hung King was the eldest of 100 sons born to the dragon lord, Lac Long Quan, and the mountain fairy, Au Co.

The Worship of Hung Kings is the second practice in the province to gain world heritage status after hat xoan was added last year to the list of Intangible Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Hat xoan (xoan singing) is a kind of ritual folk songs associated with the harvest festival or the worship of Hung Kings and village guardian spirit that dates back to the Van Lang era.

It is a way of singing accompanied by dancing and playing traditional instruments such as clappers and drums.

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