POST 313 02SEPT2017
-EXERCISE Posture Thien, the Sky
-Text: THE MOURNING PERIODS IN VIETNAMESE TRADITION
- PICTURES OF KYOTO
EAST WEST NEWSLETTER (since 1997)
from Charles P. Hoang, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Research Methodology
Formerly with Union Institute &University (Cincinnati ,USA)
and UQAM (Montreal, Canada)
THE MOURNING PERIODS
IN VIETNAMESE TRADITION
To researchers who are interested in the field of Vietnamese tradition and custom I would like to indicate one of the most reliable sources which is the series of articles written in Vietnamese language and published in the review Dong Duong Tap Chi, from issues 24 to 49 in 1915 , by Phan Ke Binh. Sixty years later, in 1975, it is translated in French language by Nicole LOUIS-HENARD and published in the format of large book by the respected ECOLE FRANCAISE D’EXTREME-ORIENT under the title MOEURS ET COUTUMES DU VIETNAM. I have checked with this book before writing the following note on the mourning time periods in Vietnamese tradition.
In Vietnamese tradition the mourning period of time for spouse or children of the deceased is called để tang and it is lasting for a period called ‘three years’ but in fact it is for two years and a few months. In practice the heavy mourning period lasts for the first 100 days and the light mourning lasts for the rest of time if it is observed by concerned people. During this heavy mourning period of 100 days spouse or children must observe the mourning code consisting of ceremonies to organize at home or at a Buddhist temple, and activities to avoid of doing such as participating to wedding event, initiating business project, performing music and dance, and so on. There are two important ceremonies which mark the two distinct periods inside these 100 days, as follows.
-The Forty-nine-day period (chung thất). During 49 days after the date of death, according to popular belief and the teaching in Buddhism, the soul of the deceased is in the period of searching the way to reincarnate, so the deceased is still present at home or nearby. Therefore meals should be presented morning and evening at the altar to the deceased. Sutras and mantras are recited most of the time. Some families could ask a Buddhist temple to carry out these ceremonies on their behalf. For some important deceased personality the reciting of sutras and mantras could be organized by a group of devoted people and monks to keep it continuous day and night up to seven days. Among sutras and mantras to be recited, the Kinh Sám Hối Repentance sutra ,the Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh Heart sutra, and the Chú Vãng Sanh Rebirth mantra, are the main texts, especially the Rebirth mantra. At the 49th day an important ceremony will be organized, often at a Buddhist temple, among family members close friends are also invited to participate in. Reciting sutras and mantras is core activity. After the ceremony people are often taking meals together. This ceremony is likely marking a farewell to the deceased. The deceased is now gone but the mourning period continues up to the 100th day.
-The 100th Day ceremony (tốt khốc). From the 50th day to the 100th day family members of the deceased continue to observe the same rule of the previous mourning period regarding activities to be refrained from doing. However presenting meals at the altar of the deceased is no longer required. But as an act of remembering the deceased, the ceremony dâng hương (burning incense and bowing in front of the altar) must be performed daily and frequent visits to the grave is encouraged. In the end of the heavy mourning period, at the 100th day, a ceremony called tốt khốc will be organized at a Buddhist temple or at home to recite sutras and mantras. The term tốt khốc means ‘end of lamentation’; so after the 100th day ceremony life resumes its normal course. But the mourning period could continue in much less formal way up to ‘three years’, in a curious Vietnamese way of counting!
-The First Anniversary (giỗ đầu). This is an occasion to reunite family members and close friends for remembering the deceased all together. After the ceremony they will take meals together and continue to talk about memories of the deceased.
-The Second Anniversary (giỗ tất). This ceremony will be organized quite similarly to the previous ceremony. But the meaning is different , from now on the deceased will be part of the group of ancestors and every year he or she will be remembered, on his or her anniversary of death, by a regular ceremony called giỗ reserved to ancestors who were counted up to five generation in a family.
Two or three months later after the Second Anniversary the mourning period will end, quietly or with a small ceremony called đoạn tang.
(Charles Phan Hoang, 2017)
PICTURES OF KYOTO
I visited Kyoto for the first time in 1983 and the following pictures were taken on my last visit.
Could I ask you to guess the date of my last visit????
Hope you enjoy visiting this Post 313.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS MY UNFORGETTABLE SOUVENIR FROM KYOTO?
-All these fabulous cakes!!!! You could never find these so good cakes in the rest of the world :-)
END OF POST 313 02SEPT2017