Vietnamese spiritual life

Vietnamese spiritual
Vietnamese spiritual life

Vietnamese people have long believed in the existence of a supernatural world. There exist spirits and deities who controlled everything and exerted a great influence on the course of human life. Plants, animals and man are believed to have souls.

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From folk perspective

Vietnamese spiritual
Joss paper burning is considered as a custom

According Vietnamese folk perspective, human beings possess three souls (hon) commanding the superior functions and seven vital principles (phach) concerning the visceral functions, but plants only have the soul-life (sinh hon), and the animals merely have an additional sensory (giac hon).  Man is the only creature having a transcendental soul which possesses the capacity for survival. This explains the origin of the Cult of the Ancestors in which the spirits of the dead, though invisible, are always present somewhere in the house. It was assumed that the fine elements of nature are epitomes of the benevolent deities, and the devastating elements of nature embody the malevolent deities; hence, it is necessary to appease them from the material needs and deception. This belief resulted in the practice of ceremonial offerings through which the people communicated their wishes to the deities.

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Spiritual belief on holidays

Vietnamese spiritual
Vietnamese often go to pagodas in the early year

Being Asian citizens, Vietnamese people also have the habit of being superstitious in their daily life, especially in special occasions like Lunar New Year, weddings and funerals. Lunar New Year has long become an integral part of the spiritual life of Vietnamese people. To prepare for Tet holiday, people often clean their house well and decorate ancestor altars with different kinds of fruit, colorful flowers and red candles to get rid of bad lucks. On stroke of the midnight, family members sit together to share with one another beautiful wishes and “lucky money” in the hope of having a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. On the first day of the New Year, it is believed that the first guest visiting their house will have bearing on the well-being of the owner, so they spend much time choosing the suitable person, usually male, in advance. Besides, people are unlikely to sweep the floor in the first three days of this festive occasion in order to avoid sweeping the wealth away. During Tet holidays, angry words are forbidden, and sincere good wishes are exchanged when people meet each other. During the next few days, it is crucial for people to visit their relatives, friends and former teachers, and they can also drop in pagodas to bring home a leafy branch- a symbol of prosperity.


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