Sacred animals in Vietnamese culture

Vietnam is known all around the world for its beautiful scenery and travel destinations. However, one overlooked beauty is the Vietnamese culture. Vietnam is a country with such unique and wonderful traditions that date back thousands of years and are still followed to this day. The whale is considered one of the sacred animals in Vietnam where they dedicate temples and special rituals. They are also known as lord whales.

Are Lord Whales sacred animals?

In Vietnamese culture, the whale is not just any ordinary animal. It’s worshiped as Ca Ong also known as Lord Whale who protects fishermen and brings them to safety.

Ca Ong is considered a deity that helps fishermen and individuals overcome any hazards found at sea. It’s also custom that fishermen make offerings, burn incense, and pray to the whale for a safe trip before they go out to the sea. This tradition and practice have been going on for generations. There have been tales where many fishermen were supposedly rescued by a whale when they were in danger by the sea.

Why do fishermen worship Whales?

Dead whaleAs mentioned, the reasons why fishermen worship whales are due to the belief in extra protection. If a fisherman prays to the Lord Whales before going fishing, then it will help them bring in a good catch. 

A famous story about the benefits of fishermen praying before they go out to sea is shown when Nguyen Cong and his 11 other fishermen went to the sea and were caught in a storm around 2009.

Their engines failed and the ship was being tossed side to side and back and forth by the strong waves going on. At that moment Cong stated that a whale came to the rescue and it used its back as a fulcrum. So, the boat can stay balanced and afloat. The whale then led the fishermen out of danger and brought them back to Ly Son Island. Where the whale then left which scrapes on its back.

What happens when a Whale dies?

whales worshiping at a fishing villageAfter a whale dies, if it’s washed up to shore the locals and fishermen will place the whale body in a shroud and bury it with respect. When sometimes has passed, they will then dig up the bones, clean them and place them in a temple.

Alongside having temples to worship whales, they also have celebrations for the sacred animals. Fishermen and locals people offer trays of food, play fun games and pray for the whale so they can have another year of luck and have a bountiful harvest.

When are the ceremonies?

There are many whales worshiping temples along the shoreline that stretches 3260 km through the length of the country. Worshiping Whale is an important culture of Vietnamese people living in coastal areas.

The time of Whale ceremonies – aka Cau Ngu Festival is different depends on each province. It takes place either in February, June, or August of the lunar calendar.  

The Whale cemetery in Vietnam 

In Vietnam, there is a whale cemetery that spreads over 2,000 square meters in Phuoc Hai fishing village in Dat Do District. The cemetery was built 21 years ago and over 455 whales have been buried there.

Dozens of whale temples are now open to the public, where the whale skeletons have been preserved over hundreds of years.

To be a part of this amazing tradition and to see this practice done in person then book a tour by clicking the link.