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The worship of ancestors

The worship of ancestors

Ancestor worship is an essential part of Vietnamese culture that plays a vital role in the daily life of individuals and society, and it is because we consider it as one of the pillars of the Vietnamese culture and a difference striking with our Western ways, we want to develop it in detail here.

Liem (2002) sees this worship a process that "fixed individual identity in relation to time, family and real and symbolic spaces, private, sacred and public where it lives and grows". Nguyen - Rouault (2001) sees it as "a unique factor, social and family cohesion among a people who managed to reconcile religious philosophical and political influences, extremely varied".

She added that it is "the foundation and essence of the traditional family structure of Vietnam and still inspire today. Respect of ancestor worship involved obviously cohesion of each family and the regulation of relations between generations. Family and intimate worship, it is and remains the basis and essence of Vietnamese culture, the link between all Vietnamese from north to south of the country, from all social backgrounds, of all faiths".

We see here that the scope of the cult of ancestor affects both the individual, the group, past, present and many shared by the Vietnamese for tens generations traditions. It binds the individual to his ancestors through a sense of love, respect and gratitude, and his clan will be united around the same solidarity.

Ancestor worship is an extension of filial piety, and found in both traditions the same moral basis, namely respect for younger compared to their elders. Filial piety unites the living generations, while ancestor worship perpetuates the attitude that the children had all their lives compared to their ancestors, and now with their deceased ancestors: "Worshipping ancestors is above all worship the beings who gave us birth, life, existence".

Ancestor worship appears as a traditional ancestral belief that although

"Practiced well before the introduction [ of ] religious and moral precepts in the Vietnamese religion" 1 appears today as an "old beliefs and animist and Confucian synthesis experiments" 2, bringing in the family way syncretic religious doctrines (Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant...), Taoist and Confucian foundations percepts. It is based on the belief that real and invisible worlds are never completely separated from the beyond, and that relationships between living beings and the supernatural exist permanently. Also, according to this belief are in Vietnamese culture the belief that the souls of the dead survives after death, protects the seed from which the importance of organizing commemorative ceremonies to their attention.

Ancestor worship takes place on the first day of death and has a particularly important role in the months since it allows a smooth transition from the soul of the deceased from the visible world to the invisible world of the ancestors. It will take place during any particular event family (Tet, birth, marriage, children birthdays, contests, building a house , illness ... ), but also throughout the year members family "continue to live with their descendants , they are kept informed and involved in any major event ( ...) [ and] quite natural and harmonious , the world of the dead and their descendants are well met in all home from Vietnam and the diaspora".

The ceremony of ancestor worship, and the "Dam giô" in particular, will bring people "to recognize a relationship between them". This notion is crucial link in Vietnam because it is a real component of the identity of each individual. "It is this link that allows you to show or orally to say interest and filiation or actually coming to the party when conditions permit. This is a friendly solidarity event where we invite the deceased (his symbolic presence) board at home eat with his family, and certify the accuracy of the link between all".

Family community is therefore much broader than the nuclear family, and within the family clan, the notion of cousin/uncle/aunt more often exceeds the framework usually considered in the West. Filiation with respect to common ancestors, sometimes dating back more than four generations, created among members of the same clan, a strong sense of belonging and solidarity to face the trials of life that could make compare ancestor worship a "family religion".

Ancestor worship is to honor the memory of deceased relatives or at least missing the past generations, it being understood that the family will have in the story regularly practiced worship and it is not therefore necessary to honor the entire pantheon of the deceased family. Also, all missing persons are not honored in the same way: "If the living occupy a higher hierarchy in the family that the dead, they are then not required to worship rank; and respect a person scrupulously ancestor worship dedicated to his parents, but generally do not respect vis-à-vis her dead child". The hierarchy thus retains a strong influence also in the invisible world.

Ancestor worship is organized primarily around the altar of the ancestors which is present in most homes Vietnamese in the place the most "decent" home, usually located at the highest place. A photo of the last missing is placed in the center of the altar, sometimes replaced by etching, drawing or even just a sign with the name of the deceased. Photo montages sometimes used to colorize old or to retouch photos to gather around scenes of daily life more ancestors together. Around these portraits may also include representations of Buddha, Jesus or any other person that the family wish to honor. Are also placed many censers dives incense sticks, flowers, and anything else that can decorate and embellish rituals.

Ceremonies, food and offerings (incense, cigarettes, alcohol ... ) will be served on the altar on three settings: one for the deceased's income and two others for his possible companions that the accompany. Offerings appear to be an essential point of the rite because they symbolize an exchange between the living and the ancestors , and the quality of the gift will then return to the expectations. During the procession, each guest will greet the altar, bowing or kneeling, and will be served all the guests shared dishes as well as rice wine and tea. By bowing the head of the family, usually the eldest son, and all other members wish

"Welcome to the ancestors and express their joy of finding them (...). The presence of the ancestors is a natural and happy family life element".

This symbolic meal once again highlights the Vietnamese spirituality and is a powerful symbol in the culture. We will resume this idea when we will focus on finding a scene own reference to Vietnam.

Also, if the importance of ancestor worship is no doubt in the organization of the family and the Vietnamese society, Liem (2002) identified several unique characteristics that may have a specific role in the psychology of the individual.

According to him, the ritual of mourning, and spread in several stages involving many rituals, "Progressively implements the pain of losing a loved one in memory of each person and organizes the collective memory as a shared private reference." This process would then "[keep] their dead "and" [prevent] considerably depression as psychological reaction to a total and permanent loss of presence of the other. The pain is shared"

The presence of the ancestors' altar in the home would also maintain contact with the invisible world and proximity to death which, with appropriate explanations, would "the anguish of children at the time and death take another look: it is the internalization of what will happen to all and order (death), and sustainability of transmissions ensure a sort of eternity of Being having existed.

Each person accesses the sacred. This presence is a pretext for family stories and life stories relevant to education, including character education"

Ancestor worship likewise have special Vietnamese values ​​versus intergenerational psychology: "respect for generations and recognition of heritage, the importance of the sacred in domestic symbolic space, structuring function of ethics, taking account of temporality of birth and death. The person, even a child can take the ancestor to witness any topic: he comes to speak aloud (or low) before the altar, sacred place par excellence, which has a final immunity".

The altar of the ancestors would have also a role of confidant, receptacle moods or states of mind, structuring and regulating potential intergenerational conflict by posting rules accepted by the family and society.

Practices of ancestor worship would then be the guarantor of biological parentage and filiation of memory practices. Reached adulthood, children "must prove their sense of duty, responsibility and their ability to ensure the reproduction of the respect due to seniors, dead, so the memory of the past", while making sense filial piety, a true "core of their personality."

Nguyen Khac Vien, perpetual visionary, also imagine that the importance of ancestor worship is known as perhaps will have an important role to play in future to moderate modernistation and preserve its traditions role: "The nuclear family, which tends to become the dominant modality in urban areas, Vietnam, as in other countries, is subject to the influence of various centrifugal forces. ancestor worship may continue to play a stabilizing role and is it intended to persist over a long or he will disappear in the near future? If persists, what new forms does it take and is it necessarily linked to the existence of the extended family, lineage it depends on relationship - it to a specific techno -economic structure, condemned to disappear into a new economic system?".

Finally, note that as suggested by Liem (2002), ancestor worship, integrating more widely in the general Confucian philosophy, can also lead, in the case where it is applied as an "authoritative reference" a "source abuse of power in the family, also the source of a docile submission considered as a big family company

What can be learned in relation to popular beliefs and practices in Vietnam?

There Vietnam many beliefs that relate to representations through supernatural geniuses and other intangible forces that maintain reciprocal relationship with the human world. Face it, there are many practices that will aim to engage with the invisible world to seek his generosity, ask his opinion or beg forgiveness.

Also, in general, it appears that the Vietnamese attach great importance to the myths and magic dimension and they are particularly sensitive to symbolic representations and practices. The dominant position that man has within the Vietnamese family is linked to Confucian rules (transmission of the name, perpetuating the lineage of ancestor worship ceremony ...) and helps maintain an idealization of the male and vice versa possible devaluation female. The fact that families usually gather under one roof three or four generations with extended family (brother and sister grandparents), with a specific place for each person (weight of the hierarchy, education, teaching of politeness and good how often returning to the grandmother, potential conflicts between the mother and her mother or stepmother with respect to the proposed education ...), asked the psychologist specifically investigate relationships and family organization. The psychologist should also take into account the types of education traditionally taught, often permissive early for boys (child-king) and then gradually marked by respect for authority demanding obedience and good results at school, while girls are often more quickly involved in housework and care of siblings.

Finally, ancestor worship, practice fundamental Vietnam linking the present with the past, and providing an identity and a set of values ​​to all members of the clan, is very important in the lives of individuals (offerings to honor the ancestors and bring prosperity and opportunity at home, involvement of ancestors for any important life events (birth, marriage ... ), and plays a fundamental role in the organization of the family and the whole of Vietnamese society. This practice seems to be a symbol combining a large number of Vietnamese cultural factors that a foreign clinician must collect if they wish to work with this culture.



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