Vietnamese Funeral Ceremony

Posted by admin at 03-28-2010 11:54:01

     A Vietnamese proverb says that, “The sense of the dead is that of the funeral”, meaning that funeral ceremonies must be solemnly organized. In the past a funeral ceremony followed a specific ritial. First the body was washed and dressed. Then a le Ngam ham, or chopstick, was laid between the teeth, and a pinch of rice and three coins were dropped in the mouth. The dead body was enveloped with white cloth (le kham liem), and put into the coffin (le nhap quan). Finally, the official funeral ceremony (le thanh phuc) was performed.

     The dead person's sons, daughters, and daughters-in-law wore coarse gauze turbans and tunics and hats made of straw or of dry banana fibred. The dead person's grandchildren and other relatives also wore mourning turbans. During the days when the person who died was still laid out at home, the mourning continued with worshipping meals and mourning music. Relatives, neighbors, and friends came to offer their condolences. The date and time for the funeral procession, le dua tang, was carefully selected. Relatives, friends, and descendants took part in the funeral procession to accompany the dead to the burial ground. Votive papers were dropped along the way. At the gravesite, the coffin was buried and covered. After three days of mourning, the family visited the tomb (le mo quan ma), again or worshiped the opening of the grave.

     After 49 days, (le chung that), the family stopped bringing rice for the dead to the altar. And finally, after 100 days, the family celebrated tot khoc, or the end of the relative's death was held after one year, and after two years, the ceremony to end the mourning was held.

     Nowadays, mourning ceremonies follow new simplified rituals; they consist of the covering and putting of the dead body into the coffin, the funeral procession, the burial of the coffin into the grave, and the visits to the tomb. The dead person's family members wear white turbans or a black mourning-band.