Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms


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Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Viet Nam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, 2014

To meet spiritual needs, everyday wishes and gain help in achieving good health and success communities in Viet Nam worship the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms: heaven, water, and mountains and forests. The Mother Goddesses include Liễu Hạnh (a nymph who descended to earth, lived as a human and became a Buddhist nun) referred to as the Mother of the World, and other spirits considered legendary heroes. The traditional practice involves daily worship and participation in ceremonies, rituals like the spirit possession ritual and festivals such as Phủ Dầy that take place at temples dedicated to the Mother Goddesses. These activities associated with the practice help to maintain part of the community’s history, cultural heritage and identity with some aspects incorporating traditional costumes, music and dance. Bearers and practitioners are members of the public, temple guardians, ritual priests, spirit mediums, assistants and musicians who transmit knowledge and skills orally to newcomers and family members. The practice of shared values and strong beliefs in the compassion and grace of the Mother Goddesses provides a basis for social relations connecting members of participating communities. The worshipping of the Mother Goddesses also contributes to the appreciation of women and their roles in society.