The ancestor worship in Vietnam throughout centuries
Ancestor worship in Vietnam was introduced into Vietnam by the Chinese during their long occupation. The procedure of the ceremony can be varied from country to country, but the purpose remains the same. It’s described in the motto “Let every man praise the bridge that carried him over”.
The spiritual meaning of the ancestor worship in Vietnam
The main reason for the ancestor worship in Vietnam is in the Vietnamese folk. According to the folk, the body and the soul go as one when people live and separate when they die. The body will be buried but the soul will stay in another “world”. In that “world”, the soul has the same demands as an alive person. They assume that if the relatives don’t provide enough for the dead, the souls will become the “hunger ghosts”. Those ghosts will wander around the “present world”, harass people to meet their demands.
One more reason for the ancestor worship in Vietnam is that Vietnamese people believe in life after death. They believe that the deceased have the power of following the alive ones and bring them much luck. The ancestor will also protect the family members from the accidents. In return, the family will be in charge of worshiping and taking care of their altar. That’s why in each individual house, apartment or company, office, there’s always an altar to communicate with the ancestors.
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The process of ancestor worship in Vietnam
No matter what one’s religion, almost every household has an altar to do the ancestor worship in Vietnam. The altar must be in the most solemn place of the house or office. According to the traditional setting, there are wooden tablets on the altar for forefathers who the offspring worship. Nowadays, they replace those tablets by the photographs.
The ancestor worship in Vietnam often takes place on particular days such as the new moon and full moon days, the death anniversary, and the festivals. Plus, on important occasions such as moving house, starting a business, giving birth, wedding day, they do worship either.
The offerings include some season Vietnamese traditional dish, a tray of 5 fruits, candies and white wine. On some big festivals are Lunar new year, Ghost festival and Mid-autumn festival, they need to prepare more for the ancestor worship in Vietnam. Furthermore, the burning incense and joss paper are indispensable on the altar. Joss paper can be the paper model of bank notes, cars, houses, phones, laptops, and so on. It’s because they think that the soul has the same demand as the alive human being. After the worship, they will burn the joss paper then drop some white wine on the ash to send the “soul” of the gifts to heaven.
The modern role of ancestor worship in Vietnam
In fact, ancestor worship in Vietnam is not only for commemorating the anniversary and the death but also the glue that sticks the Vietnamese together. It’s about the affection for the nation, for family, and the way to educate the next generations about the kindness. The common lesson is that if you do something wrong, bad luck will haunt your children and grandchildren. This is an effective method since it forces youngsters to be well-behaving and avoid bad things. As a result, they will offer their living and unborn children with good luck in the future.
The Vietnamese not only worship their ancestor but also the heroes that brought them peaceful Vietnam today. They are military commander Tran Hung Dao, military leaders Trung Sisters, etc, and especially Hung King. He is the founder of original Vietnam. To express the gratitude, Vietnamese people hold a nationwide festival on the 10th day of the third lunar month. This yearly festival aims to commemorate the death anniversary of the nation’s ancestor.
Ancestor worship in Vietnam expresses the filial piety and gratitude to the forebear, raises the love for family and the country. Furthermore, it’s an education method to make the next generations live positively.