The cult of ancestors (Thờ cúng tổ tiên)


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In Vietnam, filial piety is one of the fundamental notions in the Vietnamese family which is ruled by the cult of ancestors. The latter provide good advice and only help living descendant if they are respected and honored in particular if their tombs are well maintained.In most of Vietnamese homes one finds on the little family altar wooden tablets, each for an deceased ancestor, down to the fifth generation. One finds on each tablet the inscription of the name of the deceased and also the possessed titles acquired during his active live. Generally speaking, these inscriptions were written in Chinese characters.

In each Vietnamese family, it is the eldest son who is in charge of maintaining the family altar. It is possible that the oldest person in the eldest branch of the family has this responsibility when it comes to a « big family ». No importance concerning sex is imposed on the responsible person. A daughter may assume this responsibility as well as a man.

The cult of ancestors is especially put in honor at the festival of Tết, the Vietnamese New Year. One takes this occasion to offer to the deceased not only a meal but also incense and fake money bills that will be burned during Tết.

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