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Whale Worshipping Ceremony

April 22, 2015          3239 views
Whale worshipping shrine
(Cinet) - The Whale worshipping ceremony substantially being the wordshipping the Genie of the East Sea of fishermen in places from Quang Binh province to the North (included Phu Quoc Island) which has existed for a long time. The festival takes place in the late autumn or early spring, when the fishing season ends or begins aiming to pray for peace windless sea as well as a wellbeing and lucky year for fishermen.
In every locals, the Whale Wordshipping Ceremony is held in the different occasions and the ceremony also is called by the different names. However, wherever it takes place, the Festival has a common concept that the Whale is counted as the fishermen’s kind rescuers in the sea. Over time, these beliefs have become a Whale worshiping festival popular throughout Vietnam’s coastal regions.
Legends tell that when the Buddha was crossing the sea, he saw people struggling in a storm. He threw his robe into the sea and it turned into a group of Whales, which rescued the people from the storm. Since then, the Whale has been worshipped as a Guardian of fishermen. Coastal residents believe good luck is brought by any whale that drift into to their region. If a whale is found stranded, it is carefully buried and a funeral for him is held. A temple was set up to worship the Whale.
The place for wordship Nam Hai General.
A Whale ( Wordshipping) shrine or Whale Temple is situated at Can Thanh Commune, Can Gio District, HCM City. The Temple honours “ the General of South Sea”  a respectful title refer to a Whale that has “departed the sea”. Every year, people in Can Thanh Commune hold a stately Whale Wordshipping Ceremony on the sixteenth of the eight lunar month. Since the ceremony well-night clashes with the Mid- Autumn occasion, a festival comes to being with lantern parade for children to celebrate the full-moon and some other cultural activities organized  to amuse the local residents as well as visitors.
The fleets Welcoming Ong
In generally, the festival includes both the procession of Nam Hai General and the traditional rituals.
On the main festival day, the Temple sends a splendid boat, escorted by hundreds of fisher boats, to the sea to celebrate the whale receiving ceremony. People on the ritual boat are solemnly in their traditional ceremonial costumes.
The highlight of the ceremony is a Whale procession on a boat. Following that, the fleet comes to anchor on the waters between Can Gio and Vung Tau to receive the holly whale. The officiating official in traditional costume with black turban and archaic-fashioned shoes on orders three rolls of drum, the the ceremony is carried out in a fashion usually practiced by people in southern Viet Nam. After seeing the phenomenon of water being stirred, as a token that the ceremony has been accepted, the fleet turns ashore where another procedure is taken in a sense of receiving the Holy Whale to the shrine for the official ceremony to be held at midnight.
Officiating official in black turban
The strong point in a ritual ceremony followed by various activities and lasts for 2 to 3 days. The ritual ceremony is held in a Whale temple or Whale wordshipping shrine. People enjoying the festival can see performances of classcic theatrical play, Ba Trao singing. This type of singing is often accompanied by dances, which represent voyage-related activities like embarking, battling storms and casting nets to catch fish. The festival also features sports and folk games such as boat races, lion dances, and a tug of war. These activities reflect people’s gratitude to the Genie of the Sea and their prayers for good luck.
Procession
For people in the Vietnam’s coastal regions,  this Whale Wordshipping ceremony is like a second Tet Festival. Through the festival, people show their gratitude to the sea and pray to the Genie of the Sea for safe voyages and a bumper fish harvest. This is also an occasion to honour those who have died at sea. By its unique characteristics, the occasion has been attracted thousands visitors annually.
Ngoc Anh

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