Spring Friendship Journey – Traditional Culture Discovery

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It can say that the spring journey is a spiritual culture tradition of the Vietnamese people every New Year. In the spring air of the New Year of Rooster and the morning of March 18, the Hanoi Union of Friendship Organizations and the Hanoi Department of Tourism organized the Spring Friendship Journey 2017 for the international delegation to visit the Tay Phuong Pagoda. This ancient destination was built in the 8th century in Thach That district of Hanoi. In 2014, the pagoda was recognized as a special national historical cultural heritage by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture; and in 2015, the Buddha statue of the pagoda was recognized as a national treasure by the Prime Minister. Therefore, Tay Phuong Pagoda is considered as a typical religious work of Vietnamese art in the post-Le period and also an attractive destination for many foreign visitors.

The program was attended by more than 300 delegates from diplomatic missions, international organizations, foreign non-governmental organizations in Vietnam and representatives of some ministries, agencies of Central and Hanoi. When entering this place, international friends were excited to climb on 237 stone steps from the foot of the mountain to the pagoda’s front gate in the top of it. Delegates were very interested in the story of this pagoda with shoe-shaped roof tiles, under-tiles painted in five colors as Buddhist robes and perfectly square shape wooden tie-beams. The whole pagoda bearing the stamp of the wet rice delta of northern Vietnam. The roof corners are soaring upwardly, with the shape of four holy beasts including the Vietnamese dragon in the East, the Qilin in the West, the Turtle in the North, and the Phoenix in the South. Those significant are combined by Buddhist knowledge and talented hand-skill of the ancient craftsmen. When visiting three buildings on the mountainside, namely Chua Ha (Lower Pagoda), Chua Trung (Middle Pagoda) and Chua Thuong (Upper Pagoda), Mexican Ambassador Sara Valdes Bolaño expressed her concern of the 34 statues which recognized as national treasures, especially the jackfruit wooden Arhat statue which are red-lacquered. She was impressed with the history of treasures and the architecture of the ancient temple.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador Saadi Salama shared that the journey is very meaningful when they can visit Tay Phuong Pagoda, where attracted not only the Vietnamese but also many foreigners. “The visit to this thousand-year-old pagoda is an opportunity for us to learn about Vietnam’s culture and create a friendly and meaningful environment to meet each other, make friends, and discover about Hanoi and Vietnam”, he said. The ambassador believes that these peace and friendship activities had been contributing to Vietnam’s future and its position in the hearts of international friends.

As for the Greek ambassador Nicolaos D. Kanellos, this visit to the Tay Phuong Pagoda reminded him of the Apollo Epicurius Temple in his hometown. He really loves the fresh air here and wishes to come back to this ancient pagoda. Russian Ambassador Konstantin V. Nukov shared emotionally that after each visit to Vietnam’s destinations, he and his colleagues discovered more about beautiful cultural of the S-shaped country. “In this year, he was pleased that the Organizing Committee has facilitated for foreign diplomats, including Russian diplomats, to participate in this program. This is a good opportunity to gain their knowledge while working in your home country.”, he said.

The Spring Friendship Journey 2017 ended by a musical exchange program including  Vietnamese folk songs, traditional dances, and instrument performances. As a member of the organizer, we always hope that the Spring Friendship Journey will be an annual meeting for us in the New Year, to contribute to strengthen exchanges, tighten the friendship and mutual understanding between the Vietnamese people and international friends, create good opportunities for international friends to understand more about the culture of Hanoi through historical relics and traditional villages. Comments of international friends can give us the encourage and power to work for the Hanoi’s direction of civilization, modern but still keep its thousand years of civilization tradition.

Phuong Mai