The Lo Lo’s belief of worshipping ancestors

(VOVWORLD) -The Lo Lo ethnic minority group believes that people have a responsibility to worship the ancestors who gave birth to them and raised them. The worship rituals are performed at the New Year festival, at the Full-Moon of the 7th lunar month, and at major family events such as building a new house or wedding ceremonies.
The Lo Lo’s belief of worshipping ancestors  - ảnh 1An altar to worship ancestors of the Lo Lo (source:langvietonline)

The Lo Lo worship 3 generations of ancestors. For departed great-great-grandparents, they organize a ritual to say farewell to the souls which have gone back to the forest.

The head of the clan hosts major worship rituals and other family members help prepare them. The oldest son is responsible for taking care of the altar, which is placed in the home’s central room facing the main entrance. On the altar, they arrange wooden puppets or charcoal drawings of human figures representing the souls of their ancestors.

Phung Bao, a photographer with knowledge of the Lo Lo, said: “Other ethnic groups worship at All Souls Day on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. The Lo Lo worhip from the 24th to the 26th day of the 7th month. Lo Lo elders explain that in the old days, when other ethnic groups celebrated the 7th month’s full moon ceremony, the Lo Lo were still working in the fields because they were very poor. They only worshiped their ancestors after the harvest.”

The Lo Lo’s belief of worshipping ancestors  - ảnh 2 A dance in the ancestor worship ritual of the Lo Lo (source:langvietonline)

During the 3-day Full-Moon ceremony, the Lo Lo stop working and all cultural and art activities are banned. The offering should include a pig, 2 chickens, steamed glutinous rice, alcohol, and votive money. Two shamans and one assistant perform the ritual after the house owner places on the altar pork, 2 chickens, 42 portions of rice, and 12 cups of alcohol.

Phung Bao again: “For the Lo Lo the 42 portions of rice represent the 40 kinds of trees on earth plus the sky and the earth. 12 cups of alcohol symbolize the 12 months.”

The shamans read a prayer to invite the ancestors’ souls to come to the ceremony and enjoy the offering.

The ritual takes about an hour. The home owner hangs some steamed rice at the gate for wandering souls in the hope that they will not disturb his family. After the ritual, all family members eat and drink until they are drunk because they don’t have to work the next day.

The ancestor worship ritual is an important ceremony. It reminds the Lo Lo of their roots and the merits of their ancestors, and enhances family bonds. The ancestor worship ritual of the Lo Lo Chai in Lung Cu commune, Ha Giang province, has been recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage.

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