Hanoi to fete divine mothers

Mother Goddess worshippers, as well as those curious about the practice, can enjoy performances dedicated to the deities at a cultural festival in the capital next month.

"It's a chance for followers to engage in the religious tradition of Mother Goddess worship," said head of the organising board Nguyen Khac Loi. "The festival will help build a dossier to submit to UNESCO to recognise the Mother Goddesses worship as an intangible cultural heritage of humankind."

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According to tradition, the universe is divided into four realms: Heaven, Earth, Ocean and Mountains/Forests. The Mother Goddesses control these realms with the help of many gods and heroes. They protect people and bring them good luck and strength to overcome misfortune.

To worship the goddesses, mediums enact trance rituals accompanied by dancing and chau van singing. These rituals usually take place at pagodas and temples in a very solemn atmosphere; colorful offerings and flickering candles turn the sanctuaries into splendid stages.

The medium, usually a woman or a man disguised as a woman, changes character when entered by each deity's spirit. Two to four assistants sit by the medium to facilitate her frequent changes of clothes and accessories, which correspond to these changing roles.

The cultural festival will take place officially next month gathering performers in the capital and neighbouring provinces who come to show their talent and tribute to the immortals, Loi said. During the festival, mediums will perform different sections of trance, an especially important ritual accompaning the religion of Mother Goddesses worship.

Before the festival, a qualifying round will take place at several temples and pagodas in Hanoi to select the best performers.

The festival will take place on November 28-29 at the Culture – Friendship Palace, 91 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hanoi.