(VOVworld) – Mother Goddess worship, or Đạo Mẫu, was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity at a UNESCO conference in Ethiopia, on December 1st. This folk belief embodying the Vietnamese folk culture has stood the test of time.
|A trance ritual
Mother Goddess worship has sustained the people’s spiritual aspirations in Vietnam for hundreds of years. It is commonly associated with Lên Đồng or trance ritual. Prof. Ngo Duc Thinh, former Director of the Vietnam Institute of Culture Studies, said this intangible heritage is attractive because it embodies the Vietnamese characters: "Only the Vietnamese practise this type of spirit mediumship ritual which is considered a living museum of national culture. Mother Goddess worship is a belief which cherishes women, a representation of beauty. Everything about this belief is beautiful: costumes, dances, and music. This is the peak of Vietnam’s spiritual art.”
Since 1986, Mother Goddess worship has been re-established as part of the indigenous culture though this folk belief was once disregarded. Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai of the Institute for Religious Studies said:“Mother Goddess worship has been restored and developed since 1986 when Vietnam adopted the Law on Cultural Heritage. This belief asnwers the people’s secular wish for good luck, success, and career promotion, which are strongly desired in today’s market economy. That’s why Mother Goddess worship has quickly prevailed in the current society.”
With the recent UNESCO recognition, the Mother Goddess belief has overcome atheists’ skepticism and proved its vitality. Prof. Thinh attributes this success to efforts by folklorists and mediums: “We have a more objective view and do not consider this belief a superstition. We have done this for the past dozens of years. Researchers, authorities, and people have changed their mind. The honoring of Mother Goddess worship shows an improved perception by society.”
Dr. Mai suggests ways to help protect and promote the belief as an intangible heritage: “Studies on this belief should be publicized. When the people really understand all about it, they will be able to judge whether the belief is good or bad. UNESCO’s recognition will make mediums, who practise Mother Goddess worship, more aware of their historical and cultural mission.”