A Vietnamese funeral ceremony is a traditional and elaborate ceremony that is carried out to honor and commemorate the deceased person’s life and provide closure for the family and friends. The ceremony includes various rituals and customs that date back hundreds of years and are deeply embedded in Vietnamese culture and beliefs.
1. Preparation: Before the funeral, the body of the deceased is prepared for the ceremony. It is washed, dressed in traditional clothing, and placed in a casket. The casket is usually adorned with flowers and candles.
2. Wake: A wake, known as “tang le” in Vietnamese, is held at the deceased person’s home or a funeral parlor. Family members, friends, and acquaintances gather to pay their respects, offer condolences, and support the grieving family. The wake often lasts for several days.
3. Altar and ancestral worship: A small altar is set up in the deceased person’s home, adorned with portraits, candles, and incense. Relatives and friends pay their respects to the deceased by offering prayers, incense, and food at the altar. This is accompanied by the belief that the soul of the deceased will be guided by these offerings in the afterlife.
4. Funeral procession: On the day of the funeral, a procession is held to transfer the body from the home or funeral parlor to the burial site or crematorium. Mourners walk behind the hearse, carrying funeral banners and burning incense. Traditional Vietnamese funeral music is often played during the procession.
5. Burial or cremation: The body is either buried or cremated, depending on the family’s preference and religious beliefs. Burial is more common in rural areas, while cremation is more prevalent in urban areas. The burial site or crematorium is generally visited by family members and close friends for further prayers and offerings.
6. Mourning period: After the funeral, a mourning period follows, usually lasting for 49 or 100 days. During this time, the immediate family wears mourning clothes and avoids participating in any joyous events or festivities. The family also continues to worship the deceased through daily prayers and offerings at the home altar.
7. Commemoration ceremony: On the death anniversary of the deceased, a commemoration ceremony, known as “Le gioto” in Vietnamese, is held. Family and friends gather at the burial site to honor the deceased, offer prayers, and make offerings. The occasion also serves as an opportunity for family members to come together and remember their loved one.
Vietnamese funeral ceremonies are deeply rooted in the country’s rich culture and traditions. They provide a way for loved ones to express their grief, honor the deceased, and seek solace in shared rituals and support from the community.