Kitchen Gods and Village Spirits

Vietnamese religious beliefs are rich and varied. The afterlife is also modeled along the same lines as the earthly one, with the family theme being all important. In all Vietnamese homes and pagodas…
Vietnam religious beliefs are rich and varied. The afterlife is also modeled along the same lines as the earthly one, with the family theme being all important. In all Vietnamese homes and pagodas, you will find an altar dedicated to the ancestors. Filial piety and family cohesion do not end with the death of a parent. Anniversaries of death are much more celebrated than dates of birth and give rise to family reunions and elaborate dining. Occasionally, you will be invited to such ceremonies. If you do not wish to attend, simply refuse politely; otherwise, enjoy the discovery. A small gift (flowers, fruits, wine) should be offered to the host family.

Beliefs and Superstitions
The afterlife is also modeled along the same lines as the earthly one, with the family theme being all important

DO take advantage of these invitations to discover more about local customs. DON’T be shy, simply be respectful. The family altar, or simply the sidewalk in front of the house, will also be used to celebrate other deities’ anniversaries or special days. The polytheist religious system is a complex mixture of gods and real-life ancestors. Foremost in the spiritual hierarchy is Ong troi (literally, Mr. Heaven). At the helm of the universe, he presides over human fate. Next to him are other deities such as the God of Earth, the God of Water, the God of Mountains, the Kitchen God, etc. Each will have his special day of worship where joss sticks and paper offerings will be burned in the family’s homes or at the temple. Prayers specifically tailored to the celebrated deity will be recited and offerings of fruits and alcohol will be laid on the home altar or at the temple. In practically every village, there will be a temple to worship the tutelary spirit who founded the place. His death anniversary will be celebrated with numerous offerings at his temple. But not all spirits are good and benevolent. Ghosts and bad spirits also thrive in the land of the dead. Most Vietnamese are quite afraid of evil spirits and many will have ‘true’ stories of encounters with living dead creatures. Occasions for religious ceremonies are nearly endless.

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