Exploring our land

The Mong’s forest god worship

Every year, in the first Lunar month, the Mong in Vi Xuyen district, Ha Giang province together with Mong families living in the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism (Hanoi) hold a ceremony to worship the forest god.
The Mong people consider each forest to be ruled by a god. To worship the god of the forest is to pray for his support for villagers’ good health and bumper crops and as well as to preserve the forest.

The Mong worship the forest god on the first day of the Lunar year because they believe that is the cleanest day of the year. On the day of the ceremony, people will bring offerings to the place of worship. This place is chosen by a reputable shaman who is knowledgeable about the rituals of the clan. The offerings to the forest god include goats, chickens, tofu and chung cakes.

The shaman burns the worshiping papers containing the blood of the sacrificed animals. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP 

In the live offering part, the shaman burns the feathers of the sacrificed animals. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP

Chicken is an important animal in all spiritual activities of the Mong people. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP

The shaman pours wine on the sacred tree. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP

Mong women prepare the offerings. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP

The forest worship ceremony is important in the lives of the Mong people. Photo: Viet Cuong / VNP 

At the forest god worshiping ceremony, everyone can attend, but only men can directly participate in the rituals. The ceremony is divided into two parts, including live offerings and cooked offerings. Giving live offerings is to share with the god animals that are still alive and will be reincarnated in front of the altar of the forest god to send him the soul of the sacrificial creature. In the live offering part, after burning incense for the ceremony, the shaman will burn the feathers of the sacrificial animals with the incense stick at the altar and then reincarnate the animals. After that, he will invite the forest god to receive the sacrificial souls. At the end of the live offering part, the animals are cooked to make offerings for the second part.

During the vows of the second part, the shaman will invite the forest god to accept cooked offerings and recites the wishes of the villagers for the year. The ritual of worship will end when the shaman burns all the worshiping papers containing the blood of the sacrificial animals and pour wine on the sacred tree where the altar is set up.

After the rituals, people will often listen to the shaman who tells ancient and mysterious stories about the sacredness of the forest. Everyone believes that the forest god will protect them.

Not only is it a unique traditional ritual of the Mong people, the ceremony of worshiping the forest god is important in raising people's awareness of preserving and protecting forests and the sustainable environment.
By Viet Cuong