Vietnamese custom of ancestor worship

Published:  04:56 Friday - September 23, 2016 The custom of worshipping ancestors plays an important role in Vietnamese culture. It has preserved this custom through the generations. The custom express the respect and gratitude to ancestors.

The majority of Vietnamese families have ancestor altars to honor and remember their ancestors. The size of the altars is varied in size from small to large depending on the situation on each family. The altar has to be located in a high, clean, respectful place in the house where incense and flowers are displayed on the anniversary of the family member’s death, on the Vietnamese New Year as well as other occasions.

Generally, every altar should have three small pots of incense, two flower vases, photos of the deceased, two beautiful plates to present favorite offerings to deceased, one bottle of wine, and a set of tea pot and cups. The altar is always kept clean and neat. Many families very often burn incense because they believe it will bring peace to their descendants.

Worshipping takes place regularly on particular days, such as festivals, new and full moon days, the death day of the ancestor, Tet holiday and so on. On important occasions, such as moving house, starting a new business or the birth of a child, and whenever a member of the family needs guidance or a favour, the ancestors are consulted.

A proliferation of small fires of burning paper in the streets of towns and cities means that it is a festival or moon day. One paper fire is likely to be an event affecting a single family.

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