Intangible Cultural Heritage of Asia and the Pacific

Mother Goddess Liễu Hạnh Festival in Phu Giay, Vietnam (Photo by Prof Dr Ngo Duc Thinh)

Supreme Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh

Of the Four Palaces religion of Vietnam, Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh is the most important figure. People believe that this Mother Goddess has the power to create and govern the four domains of the Universe, which are represented by different colors: the Celestial Palace (Heaven) is red; the Earth Palace is yellow; the Water Palace (rivers and oceans) is white; and the Mountain Palace (mountains and forests) is green. Below this Mother Goddess in the pantheon is a system of male and female deities including Quan (Great Mandarins, male deities), Chau (Ladies of Honor, female deities), Ong Hoang (Princes, male deities), Co (Royal Damsels, female deities), and Cau (Boy Attendants, male deities).

In Vietnam, thousands of temples and palaces have been built to worship Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh and other deities to wish for good health, good luck, prosperity, and happiness. It is believed that the Mother Goddess and the deities were incarnated as important historical figures who made valuable contributions to the country and the people, which transformed the religion into a foundation for patriotism in Vietnam.

Len dong, the ritual to venerate the Mother Goddesses, is performed with music, songs, dances and plays. The death anniversary festival of Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh is organized during the third lunar month and includes a worship ceremony, procession, Len Dong ritual, and other rites that attract the participation of millions of people from around the country.