There is a Vietnamese saying: "We have the Father's Festival in August and the Mother's Festival in March." The Mother's Festival is held in the Phu Giay Temple which is dedicated to a female genius, Lieu Hanh.
Phu Giay festival takes place annually from the 1st to the 10th of the third lunar month in Kim Thai commune, Vu Ban district, Nam Dinh province.
Phu Giay is the place where worships Lieu Hanh - one of "four immortal gods" of Vietnamese. The third lunar month is the time agricultural work is relatively leisurely. Peasants are waiting for reaping. This is the most suitable time for organizing festivals. Thus, people in the northern plain are eager to go on pilgrimages with the aim at both relaxing after hard working days and feeling the harmony between human and nature; visiting natural landscapes and splendid architectural works made by hand. More especially, they go on pilgrimages to satisfy their spiritual need, to seek for religious belief for expecting better things in their lives. Phu Giay festival, every year; attracts a lot of visitors from Lang Son, Hai Phong, Mong Cai, Thai Binh; Ha Noi... creating brilliant setting in spring.
Phu Giay is an original architectural space amid an immense delta surrounded by vast water with some lonely mountains while villages are very well off. Not being an ancient architectural construction, but Phu Giay is a beautiful architectural one with grandiose scale in religious architectural system m the North. Cultural traits of Nguyen dynasty are shown obviously in this work. There are two big temples in Phu Giay. One of them is in Van Cat hamlet - the home of her husband. Besides, there are a series of other works such as Kham Sai temple, Thuong temple, Kim temple, Cong Dong temple, Gang Well temple, Banyan temple, Khong temple, To palace, Mau shrine etc. Owning to this system, the scale of the worship and the majesty in Phu Giay has been increased.
Phu Giay festival is the one of national games. The biggest and joyfullest ceremony of Phu Giay festival is the sedan chair procession implemented by middle-aged women and virginal girls. Girls carry the sedan chair, feather fans while middle-aged women hold gonfalons, flags and clear the way for the sedan chair. Following the procession are hundreds of people with many flags in the sound of drum and megaphone.
Several games such as wrestling, swinging, cock fighting; bird fighting dragon - lion dancing and especially "keo chu" game take place after finishing the procession. Beside martial games, there are many amusements such as tuong - cheo -trong quan - ca tru - xam singing - folk and classical songs of Vietnamese creating the energetic and exciting atmosphere for the festival. This causes any travelers who come to participate all want to return. For people came here once, they wish to come again next time.
The person worshipped here is the princess Lieu Hanh - a both real and unreal saint. This makes Phu Giay different from other festivals in over our country. Because, in temple, pagoda or shrine, people usually worship either man of merit to the nation, to villages or sacred deities who always assist and protect everybody. According to annals, Ms Lieu Hanh was born in 1557 in Van Cat village whose parents are Mr. Le Cong Chinh and Mrs. Tran Thi Phuc. When being 18 years old, she got married to Mr. Dao Long in Tien Huong village which was closely to Van Cat. She died at the age of 2.1 without reason why and left behind a child. Her shrine now is built in both villages.
This truth is covered by many legends. For instance, it is said that her father dreamt about being marched to the heaven and had to witness the princess Quynh Huong was deported to the earth for 21 years by the Jade Emperor due to breaking the gem cup. After that, they bore Lieu Hanh. They firstly named her Le Thi Thang with the nickname Giang Tien (means the fairy descends from the heavens) because they found this fact revealed the dream. Besides, there are many other stories of her miracle such as she helped Trinh Lord Squash the rebellion or she used to meet Master Bung (Phung Khac Khoan) when he came back from China after making an envoy... She is not only worshipped in Nam Dinh alone, but also in many other regions in Viet Nam also such as Thanh Hoa, Hue and Ha Noi. By West Lake, there is her palace with a poem of the pleasant encounter between she and Master Bung engraved clearly. It seems that nowhere has the attached combination between the reality and the legend like a beautiful poem in this land of Phu Giay festival. Therefore, every year, tens of thousands of beautiful boys and girl come here from everywhere for going on pilgrimage and making the fame of this distinctive festival increased.