Vietnam’s mother goddess worship, a world intangible heritage

VOV.VN-Mother Goddess Worship or Dao Mau, which began in the 16th century in Vietnam, is the worship of the incarnation of nature goddesses. The practice of the belief in Mother Goddesses has been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

That was a piece of Hau Dong or trance ritual in Hanoi. 

Prof. Ngo Duc Thinh, a researcher of the Dao Mau which worships mother goddesses, said going into a trance is a communication between deities and humans mediated by a medium. The ritual is the most important element of the Mother Goddess Worship belief.

"The trance ritual usually takes place in March and August. Deities are incarnated in male or female mediums in ceremony accompanied by music and dance. Each ceremony may comprise of up to 36 incarnations of deities, who are believed to bless human prayers,” he said.

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Dao Mau worships three Mother Goddesses, representing the three realms of the universe: Heaven, Water, and Mountains and Forests. Goddess Lieu Hanh is in charge of the Heaven, Mau Thuong Ngan is in charge of Mountains and Forests, and Mau Thoai takes care of Water.  In other Vietnamese subculture, Mother Goddesses have evolved from mythic figures or real historical figures who rendered great services to the nation.

Mother Goddess Worship is a fusion of Vietnamese and foreign religions: Taoism and Buddhism. Mother Goddesses have arisen from the Kinh majority and other ethnic groups of Vietnam.

“The belief in Mother Goddesses originated in the northern delta: Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, and Ninh Binh province. Places of goddess worship are called temples. There are big temples in honor of Goddess Lieu Hanh in Nam Dinh and at Hanoi’s West Lake,”, said Prof. Ngo Duc Thinh.

Nguyen Van Tien, who often attends trance rituals, said Mother Goddesses are believed to protect humans and bring them wealth, good luck, and health.

"Dao Mau advises people to live with a warm heart and remember their ancestors. Worshiped figures are often national heroes or heroines, who devoted their lives to the people and the country", he said.

The Vietnamese believe that all natural phenomena – droughts, floods, favorable weather, or disasters – are under the mysterious power of Mother Goddesses.  If a person is blessed by a Mother Goddess, his or her life will be more secure. 

Nguyen Tien Dung, a researcher of belief culture, said this is the core value of Mother Goddess Worship.

“A trance ritual combines artistic aspects: music, singing, dancing, flower arranging, martial arts, sculpture, origami, fashion, and food. This belief teaches humans to be kindhearted and friendly. People believe their prayers for favorable weather, peace, and happiness will be heard", said Dung.


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