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The supernatural world

Supernatural beliefs are widespread in Vietnam and affect many different areas. We propose here an overview of the main supernatural practices that can be found in Vietnam. In such areas, there is a wide variety of practices and nuances of ceremonies, without trying to make an exhaustive analysis, we try especially not transmit the essential meanings.

  1. The perception of the invisible world 

Today, the relationship with the supernatural world, the "other world" or the "invisible world" is particularly present in the Vietnamese daily life. The belief in spirits is based on the design of a bipolar world consisting of a share of a visible world ("duong = yang"), which usually live in humans, and an invisible world other ("âm = yin"), populated by various supernatural beings may have various origins. According to popular belief, there are many exchanges between these two worlds, the invisible world can influence the visible world, and even the actions of the visible world can have repercussions in the invisible world.

Also, this dimension is essential and as suggested by Nguyen - Rouault (2001), "we may not understand the Vietnamese culture and family organization in perceiving the world in terms of popular and traditional beliefs Vietnam ie designing the existence of an invisible world and yet very present in the daily life of Vietnamese people".

According to this belief, the earth would be inhabited by living beings but also countless minds and spirits of many appearances, may have a decisive influence on the earthly world and the lives of individuals, and should then worship when they have beneficial powers, or rather fear if they have evil powers.

Among the spirits that we can "meet" in Vietnam, the geniuses ("Than") hold a special place because of the place that gives them the Vietnamese mythology, which are considered the main organizers of the world. There are different types of geniuses whose guardian spirits ("phuc Than") which are the subject of numerous communal worship, including the worship of the tutelary genius, one of the most traditional practices

Important Vietnam.

"In the traditional Vietnam, the cult of tutelary genius is undoubtedly the most important village religious practice. This genius is, significantly, the sum of common memories, common aspirations; it embodies both the rule, custom, morality and punishment; it is he who punishes or rewards depending on whether observed or violated the laws enacted before him, by mutual agreement, by the villagers. It unites all:

1 Nguyen - Rouault, F. (2001). p. 27

2 See the legend of Lac Long Quan, son of the genius of dragons, and CO, daughter of the genius of the Earth who founded the Vietnamese people. (see "History") 

Members of the community; he makes a block, a sort of moral personality which all essential purposes are found in every individual"

But next official geniuses ("chinh Than"), honorable representations compliance with which is mostly the subject of a cult from a village or district of a city, there are various geniuses "the vague contours" that can be found frequently throughout the country: "Many villages worship as a genius pick manure, a thief, etc., which result from the special rites performed at the annual festival of prohibited and special customs in each locations. And the observance of these rites, taboos and customs specific ["hem"] depends on the happiness of the people"

Another category of spirits is around immortal ("tien") that are often derived from Taoism and "revered for their immortality, their love of the most complete individual freedom, their rejection of coercion, their detachment from all things land, their love of nature...". The Adoration of the immortal clearly highlights the fascination Vietnamese culture can lead to longevity or immortality... but also knowledge and expertise. Also, the immortal is frequently represented in temples or through popular images by the symbol of benevolent old man, beaming face, dressed in noble clothes scholars, and often with a book or parchment, or the hermit living alone in the forest.

  1. The use of beneficial spirits 

Also, spirits can be invoked for a particular benefit, carry out difficult tasks, for advice, intervene and resolve a problematic situation... They are then asked to "come down" on earth, in a ritualized context, they come to a time "live" the body, men or women, mediums they chose "elected" and through which they exercise their powers".

Thus, it seems interesting to note the attitude very "pragmatic" Vietnamese in respect of all philosophy and creed: "In most cases, they have recourse to religious practices for a specific purpose and an immediate result: security, prosperity of the village or the family, healing the sick, birth of male children, passing an examination, tranquility for the dead in their life beyond the grave, etc...To increase the chances of success, many people choose to focus on the influence and effectiveness of any kind of spirits and beliefs whatever the origin".

  1. The influence of the invisible world and the presumed etiology of some diseases 

Along with these benefits for loyal entities also exist malicious spirits as obscene geniuses ("DAM ​​Than"), evil ("your ma") or demons ("my that") or ghosts ("my cunt") that they will be considered that can have very harmful effects. Many of these evil spirits are then seen as the origin of specific events: the death of young girls before marriage, violent death (accident, suicide, sudden illness...) or occurred at a sacred moment, while causing wandering souls abandoned ("CO HON"), which private burial can not take advantage of any religion ... In the beliefs, then these spirits haunt the earthly world seeking to harm humans by frightening or worse by attacking directly, may then cause illness or death. Some demons ("Ba Co", "Con Ranh", "Quan Sat") are thus considered particularly dangerous for newborns: the "health problems, family hassles, and work-related problems are often interpreted as manifestations of the irritation dissatisfied minds. The large number of places of worship and ceremonies reflect the inclusion of minds at every moment of daily life". 

Also, the concept of "debt" ([NO]) refers to the negative consequences of mistakes in past lives or in the present life, would now among individuals. Through this belief, it is accepted that geniuses are so unhappy with this situation and exert pressures that would result in difficulties in everyday individual. Thus, for example, a couple might encounter difficulties in having a child could be considered the result of past bad behavior, moral faults ([TOI Ac]), such as abortion, prostitution, infidelity in marriage (boy like father if unfaithful father, son too girl like mother), theft, corruption and misappropriation of wealth of the population, participation in the war and having killed many people... also mention here the popular phrase "parents eat salty, children have a thirst" ([DOI cha aN Man Nuoc Noi con khat]) indicating that the concept of debt can also play in generations of a family. To "pay the debt" negotiations with geniuses to find an arrangement will be necessary through a particular ceremony "the".

Bertrand (undated) made ​​a study of the various diseases of children in sampan in Hue, and was interested in many causes that can be attributed to diseases by families or traditional healers, and highlights the complexity of beliefs that can relate to disease. It distinguishes between "diseases that fall under the Sino-Vietnamese or Western called diseases within medicine" primarily due to aggressions related to hot/cold, wind, poor food, the sun... which are usually treated with single medication or basic practices, and "diseases that fall under the intervention of medium or other so-called diseases outside healers "that may have originated from many causes ("quan sat (caused by general diseases)" (...) "Ba ba quan sat or sat or the ba Canh Ranh the sat is a mandarin woman (quan) who wants to keep and kill (sat) children", "co Thân Ruat is an aunt of the family who died without children is not a good spirit, she wanders after his death and causes disease in his family, especially the children", "loss of the soul (Matte Hon)", "diseases possession by evil spirit", "Diseases caused by bad actions of parents" ...

As with happiness or luck, difficulties are often seen in Vietnam and external, are not directly attributable to the issue, but due to the environment and favors the latter wish to grant him. A recent case in Hanoi, developed in the newspapers, then resumes the theme of relations between spirits and humans can be problematic:

"The Curse of the To Lich River is a case that hits the headlines. Launched by the newspaper Nguoi Bao Ve Phap Luat [Guardian of the Act], it shook the opinion and was relayed by the press online. The newspaper published a series of stories of a bankrupt contractor who tells the curses that hit and all those who were related to a concrete wharf site of part of the To Lich River, which crosses the Cau Giay district in Hanoi: dead, bankruptcies, lawsuits, car accidents, fires, diseases, dead souls reappear. Coincidence or curse? Tragic events in any case hit these people and their families. Many believe that the site has infringed a former head installed by the former to protect the ancient capital Dai against the ghosts. In any case, several ancient artifacts and skeletons were bailed out of the river at the beginning of the site that has been abandoned for" ...

Beliefs about relationships with such geniuses are, at the extreme, in very rare cases, it may be that dramatic situations arise. On March 11, 2007, in the Highlands of Central Vietnam, the press made ​​by hand "a forty young in the village of Dak Ya Ya Dak commune Mang Yang district of the province of Gia Lai savagely beat MM. Tuon, born in 1979, Nhieu, born in 1937, and Kel, born in 1980 until they died believing that it was evil spirits trying to kill the villagers".

Also in the Highlands, occurred in July 2007 a ​​case where close to witchcraft, "according to an outdated custom Gia Rai ethnic" a child of four months was buried alive with her mother who had died ten days earlier, in order to save.

Away from these extreme cases, but also to ward off these threats, most Vietnamese will endeavor to take a series of measures: inside almost every house, in addition to the altar dedicated to the ancestors, is also high altar dedicated to the genius of the home; outside, in nature, in the rice fields or fields, we regularly encounter the altars to the spirits of the land; shops or hotels often revere the spirits of prosperity ... Also to protect against evil spirits, knives are sometimes placed under the mattress for protection from ghosts, a small mirror for the push is often hung above the entrance door of the house ...

On many occasions the lunar calendar, very ceremonial traditional ceremonies will be for the service of the spirits through offerings of prayers and other specific activities: the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, for example, the "Abandoned souls" and are honored with offerings and approach of Tet, many Vietnamese, regardless of their religious affiliation or social class , prepare the coming of the Lunar New Year and decorating their home blossom branches plum for ward off evil spirits.

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