The festival is held annually by the Chinese living in Hoi An on the 23rd of the 3rd month of the lunar year, at the Fujian and the Duong Thuong Assembly Halls. However, most of the other member of the society pitch in and participate during the festivities. Devotees come to this pagoda from far away places in order to pray for happiness, prosperity and fulfillment.
According to the legend, Lady Thien Hau was originally from China and belonged to a virtuous family during the Song Dynasty (960-1279); she had the special gift of forecasting the weather and hence help people avoid acts of God. In the 19th century, Chinese people traveling by sea to the south of Vietnam were protected by her. She is said to be the ‘Goddess of the Sea’, and is not only responsible for this small fishing town’s chief source of income, but also for protecting the community who’s maine occupation is fishing. On top of this, she is also responsible for protecting sea-faring vessels. The town’s people believe she has continuously supported them to settle in their new land, and is still supporting them today. This day is considered auspicious as is believed to be Lady Thien Hau’s birthday.
The festival is organized in a widely decorated environment, with colourful flowers and lanterns carrying traditional Chinese designs. It has two parts: the first part comprises of Chinese worship rituals, while the second one is more of a cultural display, with music, dance, parades, fortune telling, oracles and fairs. The ‘Lion Dance’ is always present at this festival, while traditional games such as unicorn dances and lottery games attract a great number of visitors and locals.