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Ancestral worship ritual of the Lo Lo

Like many other ethnic groups in Vietnam, the Lo Lo believe that everything has a soul, and they have a belief in the existence of the soul as well as the relationship between the dead and those living in the same family. Along with the virtue of respect for their roots, the filial piety of the Lo Lo also contributes to the formation of their ancestor worship rituals.

 

According to tradition, when someone in a Lo Lo family has been dead for 3 to 4 years, the eldest son in the family will set up an ancestral altar and put a wooden puppet representing the ancestral spirit on it. The ancestral altar is placed in the main room facing the main entrance.  The ritual is often performed in December every year. People can hold the worshiping ceremony both at home and at the local temple.

 Usually, the ancestral worship ceremony of the Lo Lo has 3 main parts, including the sacrificial session, the memorial session, and the farewell session. At the beginning of the ceremony, a shaman performs the sacrificial ritual, then reads the prayers to invite the ancestor’s soul to attend the ceremony. 

Shaman Lo Si Pao and the Lo Lo in Sang Pa A village, Meo Vac town, Meo Vac district, Ha Giang

perform the ancestral worship ritual. 

The shaman prepares the offerings to the ancestors in the worship ceremony.


Offerings in the ancestral worship ceremony. 
 The Lo Lo’s bronze drum in the ancestral worship ceremony. 
Lo Lo women in their traditional dress. 
The villagers gather to attend the solemn ceremony. 
A traditional dance of the Lo Lo in the ancestral worshiping ceremony. 

The dances and costumes in the ancestral worship ceremony are all United

and full of artistic qualities of the Lo Lo ethnic group. 

After that, the Lo Lo will perform the ritual of beating a bronze drum so that everyone can dance to the beat of the drum and commemorate the deceased in front of the ancestral altar. At the end of the ceremony, the Lo Lo perform the farewell ritual. People beat the bronze drum and then light a fire in the middle of the yard for the shaman to read the prayers to send the ancestor’s soul back to heaven.

After the ceremony, the host family will invite everyone to eat and drink wine together. Gifts will be presented to villagers as thanks for helping the family.

 In the spiritual life of the Lo Lo, the ancestral worship ceremony is part of the life cycle rituals. The aim of the ritual is not only to educate generations to be grateful to their ancestors but also to connect communities, families, clans, and villagers. With their unique way of practicing beliefs, the Lo Lo have contributed to the diversity of Vietnamese culture. 

By Viet Cuong - Translated By Hong Hanh

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