One year after the inscription of “The Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of the Three Realms” on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the community of Mother Goddess practitioners in Hanoi held a public seminar on Vietnam Cultural Heritage Day, 23 November. The seminar was intended to identify the values and strengths of the UNESCO-recognized tradition, and to determine the challenges in their safeguarding practice. It was co-organized by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports and the Thang Long – Ha Noi Association of Cultural Heritage. The Thang Long – Ha Noi Association of Cultural Heritage was established by Dr. Luu Minh Tri in 2001 under the auspices of the Vietnam Association of Cultural Heritage. Dr. Tri has since been the chairman of the Association and was the Deputy Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee at that time.
The seminar was a landmark occasion, the first ever event to serve an opportunity of exchange and open dialogues to community members, managers, and researchers. There were over 100 people participants; more than 30 papers were presented, including some outstanding presentations by culture bearers and masters of the Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses. In the spirit of implementing the UNESCO 2003 Convention, and in full recognition of their responsibility for sustaining and transmitting their own heritage, the culture bearers identified the values of their heritage as practiced by their ancestors in the past while also bearing in mind how contemporary life is rapidly changing.
Problematic forces of change that are threatening the value of the Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses were also discussed; common of these problematic forces are the commercialization of heritage and deficient understanding of ICH transmission. There was also a pressing concern with the need for the community members to actively come together to ensure their tradition’s diversity. The seminar ended with a consensus on the part of the community members and researchers to draft more specific policies on the safeguarding of their cultural heritage.
ICH Correspondent Le Thi Minh Ly (Director, The Center for Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage, the Association for Viet Nam Cultural Heritage, Vietnam)