Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival in full swing
Update: Feb 25, 2015
The Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival kicked off in the Gia Vien district of the northern province of Ninh Binh on February 24 - the sixth day of the Lunar New Year – with the participation of thousands of pilgrims.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc beat the ceremonial drum to open the festival, which will last throughout spring.

Launch participants symbolically released doves and offered incense to pray for happiness and national development. The event also featured folk games and artistic programmes.

The organising board said the pagoda has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each of the first few days of the Lunar New Year.

Bai Dinh Pagoda is part of the Trang An Landscape Complex, recently recognised as a world cultural and natural heritage site by UNESCO.

The pagoda is a complex of the original and newly built Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain, nearly 200 metres above sea level.

The original 1,000 year-old Bai Dinh Pagoda (Bai Dinh Co Tu) is composed of temples worshipping Buddha, the Mountain God, and the Mother Goddess of the Forest. It lies about 800 metres from the Tam The Temple of the new Bai Dinh Pagoda area.

The recent additions are considered the largest Buddhist temples complex in Vietnam and currently hold several national record-setting relics, including the largest bronze Buddha statue (150 tonnes), the largest bronze bell (30 tonnes), and the largest number of Arhat statues (500 tonnes).