Vietnamese funerals and cemeteries
The funeral traditions of the Vietnamese may seem a bit shocking at first. But then, when you compare the beliefs that are common in Vietnam and funeral rituals, you begin to understand why the ceremonies are held this way and not otherwise.
At Vietnamese funerals, as well as in other countries, the relatives and friends of the deceased gather. Wreaths are purchased for the ceremony. Flags with special symbols are displayed at the funeral venue. Everyone sais goodbye to the dead person, drinks and eats. But this event is not very tragic. A band plays at the funeral, and not sad marches. It is rather a cacophony of sounds created by drums, wind instruments, and even electric guitars sometimes. It happens that a singer is invited to the funeral to perform colorful Vietnamese tunes. In the late afternoon, guests can even turn on some karaoke and sing themselves.
The Vietnamese hearse is brightly and festively decorated with colored ribbons and golden dragons. If one does not know about the purpose of this car, they might think that it is a wedding procession or a car carrying people to a fun holiday. Why do the Vietnamese have such an attitude to death?
The fact is that these people believe that dead souls continue to be around. Each house has an altar dedicated to the spirits of the ancestors. Fresh water and ripe fruits are brought to it daily; people may put money or other items, that, according to descendants, may be useful to relatives in the afterlife. Thus, at funerals, people do not say goodbye to the dead forever. They believe that their ancestors are always around, honor them, and can ask them for help or advice.
In villages, burials can be located right in the yard or next to the house. This does not scare people, on the contrary, they consider such cemeteries a place of power of their family. However, the cemetery usually is a separate area with tombs. They resemble the graves in Europe or USA. It’s the fact that Vietnamese like to make tombs look like houses. No wonder, since this is now a home for the deceased. Of course, the general appearance of the grave depends on the well-being of the deceased and his relatives. Rich Vietnamese build their dead relatives real marble mini-palaces. Traditionally, images of lotuses, dragons, and fish are found in cemeteries. Very similar graves can be found in the countries of Central Asia, for example, in Kazakhstan.
There are also burials of another kind. An example is the cemetery located next to the Long Son pagoda in Nha Trang. Multi-layered cells with ashes with the names of the dead and the years of their lives look very modest. But they are used only to bury Buddhist monks and rich Vietnamese believers in Buddhism. For such a cell you need to pay a lot of money, and many people take care of such an elite place in advance. It is worth mentioning that such Buddhist burials are common not only in Vietnam.
There are different ways to treat death. But if a person believes that the deceased relatives continue to be near, as most Vietnamese think, then it may be easier for them to experience the death of their loved ones.