Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh and Head of the Party Central Committee's Organisation Commission Pham Minh Chinh attended the opening ceremony.
Deputy PM Binh and Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Permanent Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s Executive Council, jointly beat the drum to open the festival, and joined the incense offering to pray for peace for the nation and happiness for the people.
The festival restores the story 1,000 years ago on a pilgrimage route connecting the heritage sites of Golden Temple - Trang An - Hoa Lu Ancient Capital - Bai Dinh Pagoda - Van Long Pagoda (Ninh Binh) - Dong Tam Pagoda (Hoa Binh) - Tam Chuc Pagoda (Ha Nam) - Huong Son Pagoda - and Thang Long Citadel (Hanoi).
The Tam Chuc Pagoda sits on a site of nearly 5,000ha, surrounding by lakes, mountains, forests and valleys. Excavated objects reveal that the pagoda is around 1,000 years old.
The pagoda, which has been entirely damaged with time, is being rebuilt with the first phase expected to be completed in May 2019 when the pagoda hosts the UN Day of Vesak (Buddha's Birthday, Enlightenment and Passing Away).
The new pagoda has been built using giant blocks from Kim Lan ceramic village in Hanoi. As many as 12,000 murals depicting legends of Buddha craved into volcano rock by Indonesian artisans will decorate the area.
A garden of 99 stone pillars, each 13.5m high and 200 tonnes in weight, carved with Buddhist teachings, will also be installed at the site.
The Tam Chuc complex was recognised by the Prime Minister as a national tourism site in 2013.
The festival is part of activities to celebrate the UN Day of Vesak which will be held at the Tam Chuc Pagoda from May 12-14.