Ancestor worship in Vietnam

Ancestor worship in Vietnam – A millennium tradition of the country: Ancestor worship in Vietnam is not a religion or a belief. But rather, it presents the gratitude of descendants toward to their ancestor. The Vietnamese follow religions: Buddhism… but venerate also their ancestors, even among Catholics people.

This cult is not only the most important in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people but also one of the main elements in the Vietnamese culture.

Ancestor worship in Vietnam

Why is there ancestor worship in Vietnam?

This tradition comes from the conception: Every human being has two parts: body and mind. When someone is dead, the body is buried but the spirit continues to live with families. So there must be something to these spirits: It is the ancestral altar.

How to worship ancestor:

Dependent on the ability of the descendants, the altar may be a room in the house, a wooden floor hanging on the wall or a small house apart from home. Anyway, the ancestral altar still occupies the most sacred and solemn part of the house.

In general, there is a throne for the genealogy books, two vases, one for flowers and one for packets of incense sticks, 3 cups for tea, water and rice wine, plates for offerings, an urn in which we burn incense sticks, photos of the deceased persons…

Vietnamese people believe that the spirits of the ancestors continue to live after the burial of the body. They continue to share the joy as the sadness of living descendants. They are always there to help the living but also blame them for stupidity. So, the descendants should pay attention to what they do to avoid saddening parents’ minds. The visible and invisible world connects to each other closely through this worship.

The Vietnamese people welcomes foreign religions such as: Buddhism, Catholicism …, but ancestor worship is still the most important spiritual life and highlighted by these religions.

So when we present offerings? Each month, on the arrival of the 15th day and 30th day of the lunar month, we present: Tea, alcohol, water, flowers … on the altar of ancestors.

Upon arrival of the day of the death of any one, we make a meal: Rice, pork, chicken, alcohol, betel, tools such as: hat, shoes … but in paper.

All these things are placed on the altar to invite the dead and ancestors. About an hour after, we take meal to eat before burning the tools in paper for the dead using it.

Why we celebrate the death date? We believe that: The birth to begin a precarious life, while the death is to start an eternal life. Therefore, we must celebrate it.

Offerings are also made for religious holidays such as: Mid – January, May 5, Mid – July, but especially the Tet – the Lunar New Year.

When there is an important event in the family: Marriage, house construction, good harvest, success of children in competition, people presents the offerings in the altar to announce it to ancestors.

When there is sadness, natural disasters … people burns just incense sticks to ask for help to the ancestors.

The offerings don’t ask not for expensive things: A cup of water, a cup of tea, and some fruits … depending of the possibility of children. If anyone is dead, he is venerated for 5 generations coming.

Ancestor worship in Vietnam also expresses filial piety of children towards their parents who give birth, feed them, and educate them. This is the basis of the virtue of being human, family and society.