YÊN BÁI – Việt Nam’s first-ever festival featuring Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (Mother Goddess of Forest) worship will bring folk artists from across the nation to Yên Bái Province on May 20 and 21.
In Việt Nam’s Mother Goddess worshipping practice, Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (Mother Goddess of Forest) rules Nhạc Phủ (Forest), one of the Four Palaces besides Thiên Phủ (Heaven), Thủy Phủ (Water) and Địa Phủ (Earth). The Four Palaces are where deities of indigenous Vietnamese religion reside.
The festival will be held in Đông Cuông Temple in Bến Đền Village, an important historical and cultural relic of Yên Bái. The temple is believed to be the founding site of Mother Goddess worshipping practice, according to Deputy Chairman of Việt Nam Folk Arts Trần Hữu Sơn.
The festival will feature a carnival, an opening ceremony, a trance performance, exhibitions as well as rituals of different ethnic minorities in the region. Festival goers also have chance to learn about Four Palaces, costumes of Mother Goddesses in Four Palaces.
According to Nguyễn Anh Tiến, head of Văn Yên District’s Culture and Information Office, this is the first time a festival featuring Forest Mother Goddess Worshipping Practice has been held in Yên Bái and also in Việt Nam.
“Preparation work of Văn Yên Diistrict has finished and we are ready for the festival, ensuring the respect to cultural values that have been continued for generations and recognised by the world,” said Tiến.
The event is co-organised by Yên Bái Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the provincial Arts and Literature Association, the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, and the Việt Nam Religion Preservation and Research Centre.
With the participation of artist troupes, the event is expected to help promote unique indigenous culture and practice.
The Vietnamese beliefs in the Mother Goddesses has four central tenets, all of which are associated with the community, according to director of Việt Nam Belief Culture Research and Preservation Centre in Hà Nội, vice chairman of the Asian Folklore Council, Ngô Đức Thịnh.
First, it considers nature as the mother and worships her. Second, it brings to people living in this world three things: happiness, prosperity and longevity. These are the eternal wishes of humans.
Third, it clearly reflects patriotism, which has become the people’s spirit and belief. This is shown by the fact that almost 50 genies worshipped by the Mother Goddesses beliefs are historical celebrities who have rendered great services to the nation, such as Trần Hưng Đạo worshipped as Saint Trần.
Of these 50 genies, over ten are from ethnic minorities, showing that from the early time the Vietnamese people were aware of cultural integration, according to Thịnh.
Việt Nam’s tradition of worshipping Mother Goddesses was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UN cultural agency UNESCO in December last year. -VNS
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