Việt Nam’s traditional religious practice of worshipping mother goddesses has been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The announcement was made on Thursday during the 11th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, taking place from Monday to Friday.
Việt Nam submitted the dossier on “Practices related to the Việt beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms” for UNESCO recognition in 2015, but the evaluation process was delayed until this year.
The worship of mother goddesses is a traditional practice in Việt Nam that reflects people’s spiritual needs and everyday wishes to achieve good health and success in life.
‘Lên đồng’ or ‘to mount the medium’ is a key practice in the worship of mother goddesses in Việt Nam
The Mother Goddesses of the Three Realms represent deities from heaven, water, and mountains and forests, and have been closely associated with historical and mythical figures.
These figures include such as Liễu Hạnh (a nymph who descended to earth, lived as a human and became a Buddhist nun), Âu Cơ (an immortal mountain fairy who gave birth to Vietnamese ancestors), and Vương Mẫu (the legendary Mother of Saint Gióng).
The belief in mother goddesses has been observed in numerous northern mountainous provinces across Việt Nam since the 16th century.
One of the key practices of the belief is ‘lên đồng’ (‘to mount the medium’ or ‘to go into a trance’), a ritual in which practitioners become mediums for various deities who take over their bodies and carry out actions in the human world.
A ‘Lên đồng’ or ‘to mount the medium’ in session
The worship of mother goddesses also reflects a prominent trait of the Vietnamese people – maternal affection, or the respect of children towards their mothers.
Việt Nam is already home to other UNESCO-recognized world intangible cultural heritages, including ‘Nhã nhạc Cung đình’ (royal court music), the Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands, ‘Quan họ’ (love duets), ‘Ca trù’ (ceremonial singing), and Hùng Kings worshipping rituals.
Source: Tuổi Trẻ News