|The gate to Van An Thanh temple (photo: Internet)|
Situated in a white sandy beach in an old fishing village, Van An Thanh temple was built in 1781 to worship the Whale God. Other sea gods, such as Thuy Long Thanh Phi Goddess, the Hi Hoang Thai Hieu Tien Su God, and the Dragon God and some locals who made great contribution to the establishment of the village are also worshipped here.
At the beginning, Van An Thanh was just a tiny and humble chamber. In 1841, there was a giant whale found dead on the shore near Van An Thanh. He was then buried in the cemetery of the temple by villagers in very sacred and grand rituals and ceremonies. It was the first and the biggest whale had been found in this village, therefore, he was regarded as the “Great Lord Whale”. Every Oct 10 of the Lunar calendar (the day Great Lord Whale was found), a festival is held in the temple attracting thousands of locals and visitors. During the festival, rituals and ceremonies are hold to show the gratitude of locals to the gods as well as their wish for a lucky and prosperous year ahead.
|Van An Thanh temple (photo: Internet)|
|A ceremony in the festival (photo: Internet)|
|Inside the temple (photo: Internet)|
Facing towards the South and in view of the sea, Van An Thanh has the architecture style that follows closely to the traditional style of houses and temples in southern central Vietnam. The temple is home to over 100 sets of sea-creature’s skeletons including whales, dolphins, turtles etc. which are worshipped respectfully by the locals. The most impressive, undoubtedly is the set of Great Lord Whale which is 17 meter long. This is the second largest intact whale skeleton in Binh Thuan.
|The skeleton of Great Lord Whale (photo: Internet)|
|A dolphin's skeleton (photo: Internet)|
In Vietnam, whales are often believed to bring luck, safety and prosperity for fishermen and their families. In many coastal villages, whenever a dead whale drifting in, he will be buried and mourned by thousands of locals. After three years, his bones will be exhumed to be displayed with other whales, dolphins and sea-turtles’ remains and worshipped in a whale temple near where he was found.
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