Vietnamese folk religion

Vietnamese folk religion or Vietnamese indigenous religion (Vietnamese: tín ngưỡng dân gian Việt Nam, tôn giáo bản địa Việt Nam), is the ethnic religion of the Vietnamese people. About 45.3% of the population[1] in Vietnam are associated with this religion, making it dominant in Vietnam.

Vietnamese folk religion is not an organized religious system, but a set of local worship traditions devoted to the thần, a term which can be translated as "spirits", "gods" or with the more exhaustive locution "generative powers". These gods can be nature deities or national, community or kinship tutelary deities or ancestral gods and the ancestral gods of a specific family. Ancestral gods are often deified heroic persons. Vietnamese mythology preserves narratives telling of the actions of many of the cosmic gods and cultural heroes.

The Vietnamese indigenous religion is sometimes identified as Confucianism since it carries values that were emphasized by Confucius. Đạo Mẫu is a distinct form of Vietnamese folk religion, giving prominence to some mother goddesses into its pantheon. The government of Vietnam also categorises Cao Đài as a form of Vietnamese indigenous religion, since it brings together the worship of the thần or local spirits with Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, as well as elements of Catholicism, Spiritism and Theosophy.[2][3]

Đền thờ Trần Nhân Tông
People forgather at the new Trần Nhân Tông Shrine in Huế
Dinh Bà Thủy Long Thánh Mẫu
Gateway to Bà Thủy Long Thánh Mẫu Shrine, or simply Bà Shrine, in Dương Đông
Bàn thờ Diêu Trì
Altar dedicated to Tây Vương Mẫu in a shrine in Sóc Trăng


Dinh Cô
The large Cô Shrine in Long Hải.
Nhà thờ Bùi Hữu Nghĩa
Bùi Hữu Nghĩa Shrine in Cần Thơ.

The Vietnamese folk religion was suppressed in different times and ways from 1945, the end of the dynastic period, to the 1980s. The destruction, neglect, or dilapidation of temples was particularly extensive in North Vietnam during the land reform (1953-1955), and in reunified Vietnam during the period of collectivisation (1975-1986).[4]

Debate and criticism of cultural destruction and loss began in the 1960s.[5] However, the period between 1975 and 1979 saw the most zealous anti-religion campaign and destruction of temples.[6] On the eve of the Đổi Mới reforms, from 1985 onwards, the state gradually returned to a policy of protection of the religious culture,[7] and the Vietnamese indigenous religion was soon promoted as the backbone of "a progressive culture, imbued with national identity".[8]

In the project of nation-building, the public discourse encourages the worship of ancient heroes of the Vietnamese identity, and gods and spirits with a long-standing presence in folk religion.[9] The relationship between the state and the local communities is flexible and dialogical in the process of religious renewal; both the state and the common people are mutual protagonists in the recent revival of Vietnamese folk religion.[10]

The holy: linh

In Vietnamese folk religion, the linh (chữ Hán: ) is the concept equivalent of holy and numen, that is the power of a deity to affect the world of the living.[11] Compound Sino-Vietnamese words containing the term linh indicate a large semantic field: linh-thiêng 靈 "sacred", linh-hiển 靈 "prodigious manifestation" (see xian ling), linh-ứng "responsive 靈 (to prayers, etc.)" (see ganying), linh-nghiệm 靈驗 "efficacious", linh-hồn 靈魂 "spirit of a person", vong-linh "spirit of a dead before 'going over'", hương-linh "spirit of a dead that has 'gone over'".[11] These concepts derived from Chinese ling.[11] Thiêng is itself a variation of tinh, meaning "constitutive principle of a being", "essence of a thing", "daemon", "intelligence" or "perspicacity".[11]

Linh is the mediating bivalency, the "medium", between âm and dương, that is "disorder" and "order", with order (dương, yang in Chinese) preferred over disorder (âm, yin in Chinese).[12] As bivalency, linh is also metonymic of the inchoate order of creation.[13] More specifically, the linh power of an entity resides in mediation between the two levels of order and disorder which govern social transformation.[13] The mediating entity itself shifts of status and function between one level and another, and makes meaning in different contexts.[13]

This attribute is often associated with goddesses, animal motifs such as the snake—an amphibian animal—, the owl which takes night for day, the bat being half bird and half mammal, the rooster who crows at the crack between night and morning, but also rivers dividing landmasses, and other "liminal" entities.[13] There are âm gods such as Nguyễn Bá Linh, and dương gods such as Trần Hưng Đạo.[14] Linh is a "cultural logic of symbolic relations", that mediates polarity in a dialectic governing reproduction and change.[15]

Linh has also been described as the ability to set up spatial and temporal boundaries, represent and identify metaphors, setting apart and linking together differences.[16] The boundary is crossed by practices such as sacrifice and inspiration (shamanism).[16] Spiritual mediumship makes the individual the center of actualising possibilities, acts and events indicative of the will of the gods.[16] The association of linh with liminality implies the possibility of constructing various kinds of social times and history.[17] In this way, the etho-political (ethnic) dimension is nurtured, regenerated by re-enactment, and constructed at first place, imagined and motivated in the process of forging a model of reality.[17]

Confucianism and Taoism

Disciples de Confucius (Temple de la littérature, Hanoi) (4356115370)
Altars to disciples of Confucius at the Temple of Literature of Hanoi.

The Vietnamese folk religion fosters Confucian values, and it is for this reason often identified as "Confucianism". Temples of Literature (Văn Miếu) are temples devoted to the worship of Confucius that in imperial times also functioned as academies.

Taoism is believed to have been introduced into Vietnam during the first Chinese domination of Vietnam. In its pure form it is no longer practiced in Vietnam, but elements of its doctrines have been absorbed into the Vietnamese folk religion.[18] Taoist influence is also recognisable in the Caodaist and Đạo Mẫu[19] religions.

According to Professor Liam Keelley during the Tang dynasty native spirits were subsumed into Daoism and the Daoist view of these spirits completely replaced the original native tales.[20] Buddhism and Daoist replaced native narratives surrounding Mount Yên Tử 安子山.[21]

Distinct religions


My Tho - Cao Dai Temple 06
Altar within a Cao Đài temple in Mỹ Tho.

The Cao Đài faith (Vietnamese: Đạo Cao Đài "Way of the Highest Power") is an organised monotheistic Vietnamese folk religion formally established in the city of Tây Ninh in southern Vietnam in 1926.[22][2]The full name of the religion is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ ("Great Way [of the] Third Time [of] Redemption").[22] Followers also call their religion Đạo Trời ("Way of God"). Cao Đài has common roots and similarities with the Tiên Thiên Đạo doctrines.[23]

Cao Đài (Vietnamese: [kāːw ɗâːj] (listen), literally the "Highest Lord" or "Highest Power")[22] is the highest deity, the same as the Jade Emperor, who created the universe.[24] He is worshipped in the main temple, but Caodaists also worship the Mother Goddess, also known as the Queen Mother of the West (Diêu Trì Kim Mẫu, Tây Vương Mẫu). The symbol of the faith is the Left Eye of God, representing the dương (masculine, ordaining, positive and expansive) activity of the male creator, which is balanced by the yin (âm) activity of the feminine, nurturing and restorative mother of humanity.[2][22]

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương ("Way of the Strange Fragrance from the Precious Mountain") is a religious tradition with Buddhist elements, originally practiced by the mystic Đoàn Minh Huyên (1807–1856) and continued by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, founder of the Hòa Hảo sect. The name itself refers to the Thất Sơn range on the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, where Huyên claimed to be a living Buddha.

During a cholera epidemic in 1849, which killed over a million people, Huyên was reputed to have supernatural abilities to cure the sick and the insane. His followers wore amulets bearing the Chinese characters for Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương, a phrase that became identified, retrospectively, with the religion practiced by Huyên, and the millenarian movement associated with the latter. The faith has roughly 15.000 adherents mostly concentrated in the provinces of An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Long An, Sóc Trăng, Vĩnh Long, Tiền Giang and Bến Tre.

Đạo Mẫu

Đạo Mẫu ("Way of the Mother") refers to the worship of the Mẫu, the Mother Goddess and the various mother goddesses, constituting a central feature of Vietnamese folk religion.[25] The worship of female goddesses by the Vietnamese dates back to prehistory.[25] It is possible that the concept of a Mother Goddess came to encompass the different spirits of nature as one only spirit manifesting itself in a variety of forms.[25] Along history, various human heroines, emerged as protectors or healers, were deified as other manifestations of the Mother Goddess.[25]

As a distinct movement with its own priesthood (made of shamans capable of merging the material and the spiritual world), temples, and rituals, Đạo Mẫu was promoted since the 1970s in North Vietnam and then in the newly unified country.[26] In the pantheon of Đạo Mẫu the Jade Emperor (Ngọc Hoàng) is viewed as the supreme, originating god,[27] but he is regarded as abstract and rarely worshipped.[28] The supreme goddess is Thánh Mẫu Liễu Hạnh.[29] The pantheon of the religion includes many other gods, both male and female.[30]

Đạo Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa

Chùa Tam Bửu ở Ba Chúc
Tam Bửu Temple, of the Đạo Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa, in Ba Chúc, Tri Tôn District.

Đạo Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa or just Đạo Hiếu Nghĩa is an organised Vietnamese folk religion founded in the late 1800s. It has roughly 80.000 followers scattered throughout southern Vietnam, but especially concentrated in Tri Tôn District.[31]

Minh Đạo

The Minh Đạo or Đạo Minh is a group of five religions that have Tiên Thiên Đạo roots in common with, yet pre-date and have influenced, Caodaism.[32] Minh Đạo means the "Way of Light". They are part of the broad milieu of Chinese-Vietnamese religious sectarianism.[33] After the 17th century, when the Ming dynasty saw its power decline, a large number of Minh sects started to emerge in Cochinchina, especially around Saigon.[33]

The Chinese authorities took little interest in these sects, since, at least until the early 20th century, they limited their activities to their temples.[33] They were autonomous structures, focusing on worship, philanthropy and literature.[33] Yet they had embryonic Vietnamese nationalistic elements, which evolved along the development of their political activity in the early 20th century.[33]

Five Minh Đạo movements appeared in southern Vietnam in the 19th and 20th centuries: Minh Sư Đạo ("Way of the Enlightened Master"), Minh Lý Đạo ("Way of the Enlightened Reason"), Minh Đường Đạo ("Way of the Temple of Light"), Minh Thiện Đạo ("Way of the Foreseeable Kindness") and Minh Tân Đạo ("Way of the New Light").[33]

The founder of Minh Lý Đạo was Âu Kiệt Lâm (1896–1941), an intellectual of half Chinese and half Vietnamese blood, and a shaman, capable of transcend the cultural barriers of the two peoples.[34] The primary deities of the pantheon of the sects are the Jade Emperor (Ngọc Hoàng Thượng Đế) and the Queen Mother of the West (Tây Vương Mẫu).[34]

Symbolic, liturgical and theological features of the Minh Đạo sects were shared with the Caodaist religion.[35] From 1975 onwards, the activities and temples of some of the Minh Đạo religions have been absorbed into sects of Caodaism, while others, especially Minh Đường Đạo and Minh Lý Đạo, have remained distinct.[36]



Đền thờ chính thờ Lạc Long Quân
Lạc Long Quân Shrine in Phú Thọ.
Bộ cốt cá voi
The largest Ca Ong in Vietnam at Vạn Thủy Tú temple.

A rough typological identification of Vietnamese gods categorises them into four categories:[37]

  • Heavenly gods (thiên thần) and nature gods (nhiên thần) of grottoes, rocks and trees, rivers and oceans, rain and lightning, generative or regenerative powers of the cosmos or a locality, with geo-physical or anthropomorphic representations (sometimes using iconographic styles of Buddhist derivation).
  • Tutelary gods or deified ancestors or progenitors (nhân thần), originally either consecrated by villagers or installed by the Vietnamese or Chinese rulers. They include heroes, founding patriarchs, able men and founders of arts and crafts. This category can include impure spirits (dâm thần).
  • Various hierarchical or court-like pantheons inherited from the Taoist patterns, headed by the Heavenly Emperors, the immortals (tiên), the holy sages (thánh), including the local "divine ensembles" (chư vị). They are mostly Vietnamese formations, but often with sinicised motifs.
  • Deities of Cham, Khmer, and other Southeast Asian ethnic origin, such as Po Yan Inu Nagar (Thiên Y A Na), Ca Ong the whale god, and the rocks Neak Ta (Ong Ta).

Some of the most popular gods are: Kinh Dương Vương and his son Lạc Long Quân—who, with his wife Âu Cơ, gave rise to the Vietnamese race—, The Four Immortals (Tản Viên Sơn Thánh, Thánh Gióng, Chử Đồng Tử, and Liễu Hạnh), the Four Palaces' goddesses (Mẫu Thượng Thiên, Mẫu Thượng Ngàn, Mẫu Thoải, and Mẫu Địa Phủ), Trần Hưng Đạo, Sơn Tinh and Thủy Tinh, Bà Chúa Kho, Bà Chúa Xứ, Thần Nông, Bà Đen, Quán Thế Âm, the bà mụ, and others. The Vietnamese mythology is the body of holy narrative telling the actions of many of these gods.

Forms of worship and practices

A lên đồng ritual being performed.

The linh of the gods, as it is appropriated for social construction, is also appropriated in self-cultivation.[17] It provides a locus for dialectical relations, between the individual and his or her social others, and between the self and the spirits, to intersect and overlap.[38] This is especially true of the experiences provided through shamanic practices such as lên đồng.[17]

Within the field of self-cultivation, action of self-empowering is expressed in a cluster of Vietnamese terms: tu "to correct", "to improve", as in tu thân "self-perfecting with meditation", tu hiền "to cultivate gentleness/wisdom", or tu sứa "to correct", "to repair"; the word chữa "to repair", "to correct", as in sứa chữa "correction", "repair", or chữa trị "to cure an illness"; the word cứu "to rescue", as in cứu chữa "to cure", "to heal", in cứu rỗi "to save souls", and cứu nước "to save the country".[38]

The practice of self-cultivation knits together the individual and the social in an orientation of discourse and action.[38] The individual project gives rise to a matrix of potentials, with which the individual deals with personal crises by constructing new meanings, seen as modalities of perfectibility.[39]

Places of worship

Điện thờ Liễu Hạnh Công chúa
Altar inside Liễu Hạnh Công Chúa Shrine in Hanoi.

Vietnamese temples are generically called miếu (meaning "temple") in Vietnamese language. In the northern regions, the miếu are temples hosting the "main worship" of a deity and usually located at secluded places,[40] while đình, đền, điện, đài or tînh are temples for "emissary" or "secondary worship" located nearer or within habitation places.[40] In southern regions the two categories tend to blur.[40] Nhà thờ họ are family shrines of northern and middle Vietnam, equivalent to the Chinese ancestral shrines.

Another categorisation proposed by observing the vernacular usage is that: miếu are temples enshrining nature gods (earth gods, water gods, fire gods), or family chapels (gia miếu); đình are shrines of tutelary deities of a place, and đền are shrines of deified heroes, kings, and other virtuous historical persons.[40] Actually, other terms, often of local usage, exist.[40] For example, in middle Vietnam one of the terms used is cảnh, and in Quảng Nam Province and Quảng Ngãi Province a native term is khom.

Phủ ("palace") refers to a templar complex of multiple buildings, while one single building is a đền.[25] In English, in order to avoid confusion with Vietnamese Buddhist temples, đền and other words for of the Vietnamese folk religion's temples are commonly translated as "shrine".

See also


  1. ^ Vietnamese folk religion#cite note-FOOTNOTEPew Research Center2012-1
  2. ^ a b c Hoskins 2015.
  3. ^ Hoskins (a) 2012.
  4. ^ Roszko 2012, p. 28.
  5. ^ Roszko 2012, pp. 28-30.
  6. ^ Roszko 2012, p. 30.
  7. ^ Roszko 2012, p. 31.
  8. ^ Roszko 2012, p. 33.
  9. ^ Roszko 2012, p. 35.
  10. ^ Roszko 2012, pp. 35-36.
  11. ^ a b c d Đõ̂ 2003, p. 9.
  12. ^ Đõ̂ 2003, pp. 10-11.
  13. ^ a b c d Đõ̂ 2003, p. 11.
  14. ^ Đõ̂ 2003, pp. 12-13.
  15. ^ Đõ̂ 2003, p. 13.
  16. ^ a b c Đõ̂ 2003, p. 14.
  17. ^ a b c d Đõ̂ 2003, p. 15.
  18. ^ Bryan S. Turner; Oscar Salemink (25 September 2014). Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia. Routledge. pp. 240–. ISBN 978-1-317-63646-5.
  19. ^ Vu 2006, p. 30.
  20. ^ "The Daoist Appropriation/Subordination of Bấch Hấc Spirits – Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog". 2015-11-26. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  21. ^ "Elephant Mountain and the Erasure of Việt Indigeneity – Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog". 2015-11-21. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  22. ^ a b c d Hoskins (b) 2012, p. 3.
  23. ^ Goossaert & Palmer 2011, pp. 100-102.
  24. ^ Oliver 1976.
  25. ^ a b c d e Vu 2006, p. 27.
  26. ^ Vu 2006, pp. 28-30.
  27. ^ Vu 2006, p. 31.
  28. ^ Vu 2006, p. 33.
  29. ^ Vu 2006, p. 32.
  30. ^ Vu 2006, pp. 33-34.
  32. ^ Jammes 2010, p. 357.
  33. ^ a b c d e f Jammes 2010, p. 358.
  34. ^ a b Jammes 2010, p. 359.
  35. ^ Jammes 2010, p. 360.
  36. ^ Jammes 2010, pp. 364-365.
  37. ^ Đõ̂ 2003, p. 3.
  38. ^ a b c Đõ̂ 2003, p. 16.
  39. ^ Đõ̂ 2003, p. 18.
  40. ^ a b c d e Đõ̂ 2003, p. 21.


External links

Bà Chúa Kho

Bà Chúa Kho (Lady of the Storehouse) is a goddess of Vietnamese folk religion, with her temple in Bắc Ninh. She is one of the new popular goddess like Bà Chúa Xứ, Lady of the Realm.

Bà Chúa Xứ

Bà Chúa Xứ (Vietnamese: [ɓâː cǔə sɨ̌]) or Chúa Xứ Thánh Mẫu (chữ nôm: 主處聖母, Holy Mother of the Realm) is a prosperity goddess of southern Vietnam's Thanism. She is a tutelary of business, health, and a protector of the Vietnamese border. She is considered prestigious and is worshipped in her temple in Vĩnh Tế village at the foot of Sam Mountain, An Giang province. A three-day festival is held in the village at the beginning of the rainy season, beginning on the twenty-third day of the fourth lunar month, in her honour. Bà Chúa Xứ reached her peak of popularity in the 1990s and still entertains pilgrims every year with her responsiveness to loyal followers.

Chầu văn

Hát chầu văn (Vietnamese: [háːt cə̂w van]), or in secular form hát văn, is a traditional folk art of northern Vietnam which combines trance singing and dancing. Its music and poetry are combined with a variety of instruments, rhythms, pauses, and tempos. Hát chầu văn originated in the 16th century and spread quickly. The main musical instrument used in hat van performance is the đàn nguyệt or moon-shaped lute. The genre is famous for its use in rituals for deity mediumship. Chầu văn serves two purposes: to help hypnotize the medium for reception of the deities and to accompany the medium's actions with appropriate music.

The singing and dance in non-religious form is hát văn ("sung literature") without the word chầu ("to have an audiene with someone of higher power", "to perform a service and pay homage to a deity").

Hungry ghost

Hungry ghost is a concept in Chinese Buddhism, Chinese traditional religion, Vietnamese Buddhism and Vietnamese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way.

The term 餓鬼 èguǐ , literally "hungry ghost", is the Chinese translation of the term preta in Buddhism.

"Hungry ghosts" play a role in Chinese Buddhism, Vietnamese Buddhism and Taoism as well as in Chinese folk religion and Vietnamese folk religion.

The term is not to be confused with the generic term for "ghost" or damnation, 鬼 guǐ (i.e. the spirit of a deceased ancestor). The understanding is that all people become such a regular ghost when they die, and would then slowly weaken and eventually die a second time.

Hungry ghosts, by contrast, are a much more exceptional case, and would only occur in very unfortunate circumstances, such as if a whole family were killed or when a family no longer venerated their ancestors.With the rise in popularity of Buddhism, the idea became popular that souls would live in space until reincarnation. In the Taoist tradition it is believed that hungry ghosts can arise from people whose deaths have been violent or unhappy. Both Buddhism and Taoism share the idea that hungry ghosts can emerge from neglect or desertion of ancestors. According to the Hua-yen Sutra evil deeds will cause a soul to be reborn in one of six different realms. The highest degree of evil deed will cause a soul to be reborn as a denizen of hell, a lower degree of evil will cause a soul to be reborn as an animal, and the lowest degree will cause a soul to be reborn as a hungry ghost. According to the tradition, evil deeds that lead to becoming a hungry ghost are killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. Desire, greed, anger and ignorance are all factors in causing a soul to be reborn as a hungry ghost because they are motives for people to perform evil deeds.

Liễu Hạnh

Princess Liễu Hạnh (Vietnamese: Liễu Hạnh Công chúa, chữ Hán: 柳杏公主) is one of The Four Immortals of Thanism, and also a leading figure in the mother goddess cult Đạo Mẫu, in which she governs the celestial realm.

Her personal cult was created by women in Nam Định Province, in the village of Van Cat. It is believed that the cult was created by rice farmers in need of land and water, and at its peak was extremely popular. The cult was mostly suppressed during the Communist Party of Vietnam's early reign, as worship was considered to be Taoist in nature, and was a tool of oppression. However, after Doi Moi (begun 1986) the cult has been regaining popularity steadily.

Lên đồng

Lên đồng (Vietnamese: [len ɗə̂wŋm], "to mount the medium", or "going into trance") is a ritual practiced in Vietnamese folk religion and the mother goddess religion Đạo Mẫu, in which followers become spirit mediums for various deities. Also known as hầu bóng (lit. "serving the shadows"), hầu đồng, or đồng bóng, sessions involve a number of artistic elements, such as music, singing, dance and the use of costumes. The invocation songs (Vietnamese: hát văn) used to induce a trance in mediums have been described as a "particularly noteworthy expression of the performing art of the Kinh people"; the lên đồng ritual itself is considered to be an element of Vietnam's intangible cultural heritage.

Mẫu Thoải

Mẫu Thoải, or Thủy cung Thánh Mẫu (水宮聖母) is a goddess in Vietnamese non-Buddhist traditional religion. The goddess features in Chầu văn religious ceremonies and music.

She presides over the heavenly water palace Thoải Phủ, one of the Four Palaces (Tứ Phủ) where the "spirits of the Four Palaces" (thánh Tứ Phủ) correspond to the elements.

Mẫu Thượng Ngàn

Lâm Cung Thánh Mẫu (林宮聖母) or Mẫu Thượng Ngàn or Bà Chúa Thượng Ngàn (Princess of the Forest) is ruler of the Forest Palace among the spirits of the Four Palaces in Vietnamese indigenous religion. In legend the Princess of the Forest was the daughter of prince Sơn Tinh and Mỵ Nương, công chúa Quế Mỵ Nương King Hung's daughter from the legend of the rivalry between Sơn Tinh and the sea god Thủy Tinh. Many natural features around Vietnam feature shrines to her, such as the Suối Mỡ thermal springs area near the town of Bắc Giang.

Mẫu Thượng Thiên

Mẫu Thượng Thiên (上天) is one of the four heavenly mothers in the Four Palaces in Vietnamese folk religion. She is one of the spirits invoked in the form of lên đồng mediumship particularly associated with Đạo Mẫu worship.

Mẫu Địa Phủ

Lục Cung Thánh Mẫu ("陆宮" "聖母"), also known as Mẫu Địa Phủ, is the heavenly mother of the Địa Phủ ("Earth Palace"), fourth of the heavenly Four Palaces in Vietnamese folk religion.

In the Len Dong ritual, as with the other three mother spirits, the colour of the clothes of a medium of Mẫu Địa Phủ, reflects the token colour of each of the four spirits of which the mediums are possessed.Địa Mẫu Chân Kinh is a holy book of Địa Mẫu.

Nhà thờ họ

A nhà thờ họ (lit. lineage hall or clan ancestral house) is a Vietnamese traditional place of worship of a clan or its branches which established by male descendants of paternal line. This type of worship place is most commonly seen in northern Vietnam as well as middle Vietnam.After a clan is divided into branches by males of paternal line, the head of the main branch of a clan (trưởng tộc in Vietnamese) would lead the place where all clan members worship the primitive ancestor and store the primary genealogical book. This place would be called nhà thờ đại tôn (lit. primary lineage hall or main clan ancestral house). Other breaches of a clan would have their own nhà thờ họ in which the creators of these branches are worshipped; these nhà thờ họ are called nhà thờ chi họ (lit. branch of clan ancestral house).The size and architecture of nhà thờ họ is depended on a clan financial capability, donations from each male clan members and the political status of clan elders. A nhà thờ họ is usually built follow the traditional 3 rooms house architecture in which the middle room is extended in the back so that a worship pedestal could be placed. The worship objects such as linh tọa (chair of the ghosts), giá gương (glass stand), and ngai (throne) will be placed in this worship pedestal. The ngai holds a vermilion-painted-and-gold-gilded box, which contains family genealogical book, and is covered by a piece of red cloth. This is the most sacred site of a Nhà thờ họ, which people consider the gathering place of ancestors' soul.An ancestral death anniversary will be held yearly at nhà thờ họ and this anniversary is usually used as an occasion to renew the relationship between clan members.


Preta (Sanskrit: प्रेत, Standard Tibetan: ཡི་དྭགས་ yi dags) also known as hungry ghost, is the Sanskrit name for a type of supernatural being described in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion as undergoing suffering greater than that of humans, particularly an extreme level of hunger and thirst. They have their origins in Indian religions and have been adopted into East Asian religions via the spread of Buddhism. Preta is often translated into English as "hungry ghost" from the Chinese adaptation. In early sources such as the Petavatthu, they are much more varied. The descriptions below apply mainly in this narrower context.

Pretas are believed to have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object. Traditionally, this is something repugnant or humiliating, such as cadavers or feces, though in more recent stories, it can be anything, however bizarre.Through the belief and influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in much of Asia, preta figure prominently in the cultures of India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Taoism in Vietnam

Taoism in Vietnam (Vietnamese: Đạo giáo Việt Nam) is believed to have been introduced into the country during the first Chinese domination of Vietnam. Under Lý Dynasty King Lý Nhân Tông (1072-1127), the examination for the recruitment of officials consisted of essays on the "three doctrines" (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism).Taoism in its pure form is no longer practiced in Vietnam, but elements of it have been absorbed into the Vietnamese folk religion. Taoism has also influenced the Caodaist and Dao Mau religions in Vietnam.

According to Professor Liam Kelley during the Tang dynasty native spirits were subsumed into Daoism and the Daoist view of these spirits completely replaced the original native tales. Buddhism and Daoist replaced native narratives surrounding Mount Yên Tử (安子山).

The Four Immortals

The Four Immortals (Vietnamese: Tứ bất tử, chữ Hán: 四不死) refers to the four chief cult figures in the pantheon of genii worshiped by the Vietnamese people of the Red River Delta region. They are Tản Viên Sơn Thánh (chữ Hán: 傘圓山聖), also known as Sơn Tinh (山精) the god of Tản Viên Mountain, Phù Đổng Thiên Vương (扶董天王, also known as Thánh Gióng, Ông Dóng) a giant who defeated northern invaders, Chử Đồng Tử (褚童子) a sage, and Princess Liễu Hạnh (柳杏公主), a heavenly spirit and Mother Goddess.

Full development of the mythology and honouring of the Four Immortals took place in the Lê Dynasty. Each of the four immortals has association with helping historical national figures. For example, Thánh Gióng in legend helped the sixth Hung King to repulse foreign invaders.

Thiên Y A Na

See also Lady Po NagarThiên Y A Na is a Vietnamese goddess. She is worshipped in the Vietnamese folk religion and Đạo Mẫu, the mother goddess religion. She is also known as Lady Po Nagar, the Cham deity from whom she originated. The Cham people of Vietnam had been much influenced by India, and it is believed that Pô Nagar is represented with the characteristics of Bhagavati Uma. The cult of Thiên Y A Na is popular in Vietnam, particularly among women. She is channeled through Lên đồng rituals. There have been many temples and shrines devoted to her throughout the last several centuries.

It is widely believed that the deity known as Thiên Y A Na is the Vietnamized version of the Cham deity, Pô Nagar, meaning “Lady of the Kingdom”. When the Việt came down from the North to central Vietnam and took over control of the land occupied by the Cham people, they attempted to assimilate the Cham into Việt culture. In doing so, they Vietnamized certain aspects of Cham culture that appealed to the Việt. It is through this process that the goddess Pô Nagar became Thiên Y A Na.

Thành hoàng

"Thành hoàng" (城隍) means a deity that is enshrined in each village's communal house in Vietnam. The deity is believed to guard the village against disasters and bring it fortune.

Thánh Trần worship

The Thánh Trần worship (tín ngưỡng Đức Thánh Trần) is a cult in Vietnamese folk religion associated with the spirit of historical general Trần Hưng Đạo, who repulsed the Mongolian invasions. The shrines are sometimes collectively called Trần Triều, literally "Trần dynasty".

Mediumship with the spirit of Thánh Trần is part of lên đồng mediumship and particularly associated with Đạo Mẫu (道母), mother goddess worship. Mediums are mainly female, possession of a male by the spirit is viewed as unusual.

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương (寶山奇香, Vietnamese: [ɗâːwˀ ɓɨ᷉w ʂəːn kî hɨəŋ], "Way of the Strange Fragrance from the Precious Mountain") refers to a religious tradition originally practiced by the mystic Đoàn Minh Huyên (1807–1856) and continued by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, founder of the Hòa Hảo. The phrase itself refers to the Thất Sơn range on the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, where Huyên, claiming to be a living Buddha sent into the world to rescue humankind, and accepted as such by followers of Hòa Hảo, is said to have made his first appearance in 1849.

Đạo Mẫu

Đạo Mẫu (Vietnamese: [ɗâːwˀ mə̌wˀ], 道母) is the worship of mother goddesses in Vietnam. While scholars like Ngô Đức Thịnh propose that it represents a systematic mother goddess cult, Đạo Mẫu draws together fairly disparate beliefs and practices. These include the worship of goddesses such as Thiên Y A Na, The Lady of the Realm (Bà Chúa Xứ), The Lady of the Storehouse (Bà Chúa Kho) and Princess Liễu Hạnh, legendary figures like Âu Cơ, the Trưng Sisters (Hai Bà Trưng), and Lady Triệu (Bà Triệu), as well as the cult of the Four Palaces. Đạo Mẫu is commonly associated with spirit mediumship rituals—known in Vietnam as lên đồng—much as practiced in other parts of Asia, such as Southern China, Myanmar (Mon people) and some community in India... Although the Communist government had initially proscribed the practice of such rituals, deeming them to be superstitions, they relented in 1987, once again legalizing their practice.

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