|An ancestor worship ritual performed by a guild in Chu Hoa commune (Photo: VNA)
UNESCO inscribed the Worship of the Hung Kings in Phu Tho province on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012.
Folklore researchers say the worship of the Hung Kings is very sacred to Vietnamese people, creating unity strength for national construction and defense. Vietnamese are proud of their ancestors: Lac Long Quan, the Dragon Lord, the father of all Vietnamese people and Au Co, the Fairy Goddess, their mother. Prof. Dr. Ngo Duc Thinh, a member of the Vietnam National Cultural Heritage Council, said: “Why do people worship the Hung Kings? Because of their appreciation of “paying debts of gratitude”, their custom of worshipping ancestors within a clan, and their need for a spiritual support under feudal regimes. That’s why we observe our ancestors’ death anniversary, which UNESCO has applauded. The death anniversary is something very close to the hearts and minds of Vietnamese and has strong vitality.”
Folklorist Thinh said the worship of the Hung Kings embodies the Vietnamese nation’s pride and bonding: “It’s the convergence of Vietnamese spiritual sentiments, reminding them of their roots and creating national solidarity. Throughout Vietnam’s history, national solidarity has always been a source of strength. The destiny of our nation, its economic development and territorial integrity, needs such strength.”
Worship of Hung Kings preserved
For thousands of years, the Vietnamese have worshiped the Hung Kings at a complex of temples on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho province, and other temples and shrines scattered across Vietnam. Wherever the Vietnamese people live, they always turn to their origin, their Fatherland. Many Vietnamese expats have visited the Hung Kings Temple to pay tribute to their forefathers and have set up an altar to worship the Hung Kings in their place of residence. Culture researcher Nguyen Khac Xuong said: “The Hung Kings legend is spiritually important. Every Vietnamese feels the need to come to Phu Tho to Nghia Linh Mountain, because it’s the land of their ancestors.”
The worship of the Hung Kings has been preserved from one generation to another. Every year, the death anniversary of the Hung Kings is commemorated with full respect. Pham Ba Khiem, Chairman of the Phu Tho Folklore Association, said it’s an honor for locals to take care of the Hung Kings relic site and organize their death anniversary. He added: “Even before the UNESCO recognition of the worship of the Hung Kings we were preserving and promoting this practice. We have done this job for thousands of years. The UNESCO recognition encourages future generations to continue to safeguard this intangible heritage.”