πŸ“°The cultic veneration of Ban Vuong: A spiritual legacy behind Panhou Retreat

The tradition of venerating Ban Vuong, a cultural heritage upheld across generations by Dao ethnic groups, serves as the inspiration for Panhou Retreat.

In the awe-inspiring landscape of Hoang Su Phi district in Ha Giang province, Panhou Retreat embodies not only the vibrant essence of unspoiled nature but also the timeless resonance of indigenous folklore and traditions including the Ban Vuong worship ceremony.

  1. Legend of Ban Vuong: Origin of Dao ethnic minority

From the oral folk tales of indigenous people, to the treasure trove of ancient books in Dao Nom script kept and preserved in Ha Giang province, all serve to affirm the deep-seated roots of the Dao people across Northern Vietnam are entwined with the age-old legend of Ban Vuong, also known as Ban Ho.

The lore narrates a bygone era when the land ruled by King Binh Vuong was persistently beleaguered by the marauding Cao Vuong, plunging the people into ceaseless cycles of insecurity and dread. Confronted with the looming peril of losing his kingdom, Binh Vuong resolved to bestow rewards, offering his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who could vanquish the tyrant Cao Vuong. Responding to the king's supplication, a deity by the name of Ban Ho volunteered to descend to the terrestrial realm, assuming the guise of a dog with the mission of executing Cao Vuong.

After seven days and nights afloat upon the waters, Ban Ho ultimately reached the domain of King Cao Vuong. King Cao Vuong, upon encountering a dog with strange appearance, immediately brought it home without much contemplation, unwittingly walking into Ban Ho's stratagem. One day, seizing an opportune moment when Cao Vuong was still inebriated, Ban Ho succeeded in eliminating the nefarious ruler and brought his head triumphantly back to King Binh Vuong. This monumental feat took peace back to the nation that Binh Vuong longed for, prompting the king to grant Ban Ho the honor of marrying his daughter and endowing him with land and riches. The couple went on to bring twelve children into the world, comprising six boys and six girls, each receiving one of the twelve family names bestowed by their grandfather (Ban, Lam, Man, Uyen, Dang, Trieu, Luong, Song, Phuong, Doi, Luu, Ly), which correspond to the modern-day Dao family appellations. Upon ascending the throne, Ban Ho assumed the title of Ban Vuong, ruling with the vision of harmonious coexistence, imparting knowledge to the people and their progeny, fostering the cultivation of fields and mastery in weaving, and instructing in hunting and resource exploitation.

By the 40th year of Hong Vu, equivalent to 1368, the relentless droughts cast a shadow of impoverishment and famine over Binh Vuong's descendants. Under the guidance of their forebears, the twelve Dao clans embarked on a collective southward migration, choosing the deep forests as their new haven, now comprising the mountainous province of Northern Vietnam. In an enduring tribute to and as an act of gratitude toward Ban Vuong, the Dao families established an annual commemorative ceremony on the day of his passing. Even in the face of natural calamities, epidemics, and crop failures that profoundly affected their livelihoods, the Dao villages invoked the sacred essence of Ban Ho, organizing elaborate rituals to honor his memory.

  1. The tradition of venerating Ban Vuong: A timeless heritage charm

Based on a profound trust and a reverential love for their origins, the Dao ethnic community, dispersed far and wide, annually conducts solemn rituals to pay homage to the revered King Ban Vuong. The specifics of these ceremonies, dictated by regional geography and the unique traditions of various Dao lineages, display remarkable diversity in scale and organizational structure. However, they all converge in unwavering reverence towards the ancestral spirits of the Dao people and in fervent prayers for a year blessed with favorable weather, life abundance, and happiness for their descendants.

Currently, the prevalent modes of organizing the Ban Vuong ceremonial rites fall into two distinct categories. The first style entails a grand-scale affair where numerous Dao families of the village collectively orchestrate the event, effectively transforming it into a festival. Such ceremonies often extend over several days, encompassing both rituals and festivities. The household with the highest prestige within the community typically hosts the event where the worship altar is decorated with a set of Hanh Phay paintings, a set of traditional worship paintings of the Dao people, including the image of Ban Vuong. Offerings to the spirits consist of agricultural products like water buffalo, pigs, chickens, and rice, all sourced from the village’s farming and husbandry endeavors. The shaman conducts a ceremony of gratitude and blessings for the well-being of the local populace. Participants contribute ritual offerings to Ban Vuong and engage in traditional folk dances to commemorate the ancestral figure's contributions.

The second style, conversely, adopts a smaller format, typically within a clan or individual family, particularly when one of the family members has encountered a streak of misfortune. This simplified form of ceremony is reminiscent of exorcism rituals commonly found in the lowland regions of Vietnam. In the cultic veneration, it commences with the establishment of an altar and the hanging of sacred paintings. The shaman initiates purification rituals using consecrated water, following which he proceeds to invoke Ban Vuong as well as the god of the earth and patron of the land. The ritual ends with the burning of gold and silver paper money, signifying the spirits' return to the celestial realm.

  1. The epic stature of Ban Ho: Shaping the value of Panhou Retreat

The cultic veneration of BaΜ€n VΖ°Ζ‘ng carries profound cultural significance within the Dao ethnic minority and, by extension, contributes to the rich tapestry of Vietnam's diverse heritage. This spiritual ritual holds a deeply humanistic essence, imparting values and nurturing the Dao people's connection to their origins. Furthermore, the Ban Vuong worshiping ceremony transcends its traditional role, serving as a communal gathering where individuals convene to share and uphold their bonding values. Through this communal celebration, bonds are strengthened, fostering a collective spirit that fortifies the community.

Nestled within the highlands Hoang Su Phi district in Ha Giang province, infused with a deep-rooted cultural history and epic narratives, Panhou Retreat derives its inspiration from the powerful deity, Ban Ho, of the Dao people. Revering the image of King Ban Vuong, known for his strength, unwavering determination, deep compassion, and affection for his people, Panhou Retreat aspires to build and grow its brand anchored in this esteemed archetype. The goal is to wield a profound influence on the minds of both guests and the local community, offering serene, tranquil, and eco-friendly retreat as well as practices of responsible preservation and respect for nature.

In addition to this, Panhou Retreat offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and daily life of the local population, thereby contributing to the preservation of the region's unique identity and the honoring of the heartfelt hospitality of the people of Ha Giang.

At Panhou Retreat, every experience offered is unique that not only combines the best of what we have but also gives back to the community. We are a proud local retreat with a purpose, to provide true hospitality services that come from the heart, and create positive impacts in everything we do.

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