VIETNAM, May 1, 2013 (Tuoi Tre News): The Ponagar fest, the biggest cultural event held by Cham people in the south of the central region, kicked off on April 30 in Khanh Hoa's Nha Trang coastal city. The event also earned the recognition as an intangible national heritage the same day.
From April 30th to May 2nd when the festival takes place, the 1,200-year-old Ponagar tower is open free of charge to tourists. Roughly 60,000 pilgrims and visitors, almost double last year's number, are expected to join the four-day festival. The festival features such rituals as dressing up the Ponagar Goddess, requiems, floating flowers and colored lanterns, processions and offerings to the Goddess and Cham traditional dances.
The fest, held annually in the third month of the lunar calendar, is to pay tribute to Goddess Yan Po Nagar, or Thien Y Thanh Mau in Vietnamese, who is identified with the Hindu Goddesses Bhagavati and Mahishasuramardini. As legend has it, Thien Y Thanh Mau taught locals how to do farming, weaving and knitting along with several other vocations to fend for themselves and safeguarded them from calamities and wars.