Ancestor worship, an ancient Vietnamese tradition, is a ritual practice paying tribute to deceased family members and reminding people of their roots.
Ancestor worship is an ancient Vietnamese tradition.
Thepractice reflects the influence of patriarchy and Confucianism on Vietnameseculture.
Since Confucianism was introduced to Vietnam during the Chinese domination, filialpiety, the most fundamental of Confucian values,has been very much appreciated in Vietnamese families.
Accordingly, children are obliged to respect their parents inlife and to remember them after they die. The practice of ancestor worship isthus an expression of “filial piety” toward deceased parents, relatives andancestors.
MostVietnamese families have an ancestral altar placed in a prominent place of thehouse.
The ancestral altar is set with ancestral tablets and pictures, together with anincense burner bowl in the centre as a symbol of the stars. Inside the bowlusually stands a circular incense stick that represents the universe. Twocandles are placed on the sides of the altar to embody the sun (left) and themoon (right).
Onspecial occasions like ancestors’ death anniversaries or the Lunar New Year,special rites are performed to communicate with the dead. The rites consist ofmaking offerings of fruits, foods and wine; lighting the candles; and burningincense before praying in front of the altar.
Tet,or Lunar New Year, is the most important festival of the year for Vietnamesepeople and a time for family reunions. It is an opportunity for descendants toinvite the souls of their ancestors to join the family’s Tet celebration.
Onthese days, every home has a tray filled with five types of fruits placed onthe ancestral altar. The fruits may include a bunch of bananas, pomelo,persimmon, pear and tangerine in different colours to represent the desire for“phu” (prosperity), “quy” (notability), “tho” (longevity), “khang” (health) and“ninh” (peace).
Thealtar may also be decorated with a branch of peach blossoms in warm pink todrive away evil spirits and bad luck.
Theancestral altar occupies a prominent place in every Vietnamese home, no matter whetherthe family is rich or poor. It is a manifestation of the country’s culture thatshows its respect for both the past and the future./.VNA