Worshipping the Au Co: A Popular Vietnamese Religious Belief

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Religious beliefs can be interpreted as trust or admiration for a certain supernatural object that has the dominant influence on people's daily life. Religious belief is belief in the sacred, mystical and great power that people only feel but are not able to realize.

The concept of religious beliefs and religions share many close points as both are derived from the absolute belief in a form of sublime mystery. They however have many differences. Religion as a dogma is the development of a religious belief which have been institutionalized and documented by the people. 

In this regard, religious belief is not really a religion. It is mainly the devotee. It lies in the human mind, in the activities of daily life and is expressed mainly in the living habits rather than having been institutionalized or become canonical. Researchers often refer this as beliefs, popular beliefs or sometimes as folk religion.

Vietnamese religious beliefs are based mainly on the gratitude and admiration of the following generations towards gods and ancestors. There are plentiful forms of religious beliefs plentiful. It is the center of worship of supernatural forces such as:

- Cult of nature (sun, moon, water, rain, wind, thunder, lightning, etc.), crops (cucumber, rice, corn, beans, etc.),

livestock (cattle, pigs, etc.)

- Cult totem (totem birds, fish, trees, buffalo, etc.), ancestor worship (national origin, the royal ancestors, grandparents)

- Cult of fertility: reproduction and sexual activities

- Cult of mothers: goddess, female saints and ancestors

- Worship national heroes, local heroes, who made great contributions to the country: Giong Saint, Holy Tran, Tan Vien Saint, Trung Sisters, etc.

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From that mind of cult, communities form habits and customs and natural worshiping ceremonies for ancestors, Mothers and reproduction. These are the rituals and customs which are very familiar with the Vietnamese people all over the country. Each of these beliefs is deeply rooted from the relationship between man and other supernatural subjects.

For example, why do people worship nature? It is because in the daily labor activities nature and people are closely linked and nature can govern the success or failure of human activities. It results in fear, psychological admiration or devotion. Consequently, people see nature as sacred, the divine One. People then put nature on the family altar or in temples.

Nature becomes a symbol in religious worshiping habits, in every ethnic culture, literature and art of many dynasties. It is also a common way to penetrate the beliefs into communities all over the world and not just in Vietnam.

Each category of religious beliefs is represented by a different code. We must look at its code. Before getting to know the code of a specific belief, it is necessary to understand the religion itself as a cultural entity, its expressions in traditional cultural practices, its position in the different cultural forms such as literature, music, art, ritual ... Then there is a basis to understand it in a deeper way.

With ancient beliefs, many people in the following ages can only understand them through their code, and from there to understand the beliefs of the ancients. For example, the traditional beliefs of reproduction are the indigenous beliefs of the agricultural countries. Being reproductive means having more, rich and good. These beliefs are expressed through the wish for good reproduction of siblings.  

That reproduction of things makes living easy; people gradually fill the ground, crowded and fun. Reproduction therefore becomes holy, and discovering the exact cause of the reproduction is a great new discovery that makes people worship. Therefore, worshiping reproduction is expressed in two forms: worshiping of the male and female reproduction units, and worshiping of sexual activities. This  belief is shown by the code: negative - positive; sun - land; circle - square; even - odd;  chung cake – giay cake ; mo cau - stick, mortar-pestle ... These coded go into the art through carvings of idols made of stone or wood;  

Ancestor worshiping beliefs are expressed through customary national origin (the Dragon Lord of the Sea and the Au Co, Hung Kings), the royal village, ancestors of each family, grandparents in every family. In addition to the worshiping expression of gratitude to ancestors, some of the offerings is the code that expresses beliefs. People often use Troi cake in ceremonies and worshiping activities for The Dragon Lord of the Sea and the Au Co. Troi Cake is a belief code that reminds people that Mother Au Co born a hundred eggs, and the eggs hatch into hundred children. This is also the cult of reproduction upholds human reproduction.

Beliefs (spiritual product of the community) and their expression in the life of folklore activities have close relation to each other and are expressed in multiple aspects of the concept quite well. Worshiping the Au Co and Dragon Lord of the Sea has spread all over Vietnam and become a strong religious belief for riches in siblings and prosperity.


See other travel updates of this destination:

- West Lake Sightseeing Tour

- Mother Au Co lullaby

- Gourds and the Mother Au Co

- The Au Co: The Legend of Dragon and Fairy

- Missing Halong Bay (a Vietnamese song)

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