Nowadays, with the number of foreign expats picking Vietnam as their second home increases way massively, embracing its uniqueness is something so crucial. Sometimes, you may get an invitation from your Vietnamese friend to his or her wedding, but sometimes, funerals are also involved. That is the reason why Top Vietnam Travel is here today to showcase you a part of our Vietnam history and culture with seven instructions in total, including both Do’s and Don’ts when visiting a mourning family in Vietnam.
First three things you should do to be appreciated
Bring along a gift or money
This is an absolute sign of paying respect to the lost member of the family. You can choose to order a solemn funeral flower wreath to be made and sent over to the site of the mourning family when the funeral starts to take place. Depending on the religion, age, marital and social statuses of the loved one, as well as the regional culture, different shapes of the wreath, as well as types and colors of flowers are used. For example, white flowers are dedicated to young and unmarried people while violet and yellow flowers are for older ones. Other than that, a small envelope with a sum of money inside is usually applied by the attendees to show their honor and help the unfortunate family cover the cost of the funeral.
White flowers in a funeral (Source: Google)
Dress in black or white
Avoid putting on bright, skimpy clothes to a mourning family. If you are a part of the host family, you may be expected to wear white, otherwise, black would definitely the best option. The reason why white clothes are applied in East Asian countries is that they believe it will earn merit for the deceased and the family.
Black and white would be appreciated (Source: Google)
Odd numbers get rid of bad luck
This might seem a little bizarre for some of you as foreign visitors but as a part of Vietnamese history and culture, certain procedures are carried out in odd numbers. For instance, when lighting incense, a person will pick from one, three to five sticks, while three being the most ideal. Such a rule is also used in case you take a bow down in front of the casket.
Three incense sticks (Source: Google)
In order to explain such traditional taboo, we Vietnamese believe that the odd numbers are referred to as “a lucky sign” at any funerals. Nevertheless, do not tend to apply the rule at any other time as it may lead to being considered macabre or bringing bad luck.
Four things to avoid
Leaving the dead half naked
In the Oriental daily life in general and Vietnamese in particular, when a relative passed away, the family is expected to prepare well-made clothes beforehand to put on the dead and avoid leaving one half-naked. Sometimes, the old when reaching a certain age, they usually leave some words to the rest of the family to get some outfits and items ready for the sudden upcoming lost. Once again, even numbers are totally avoided as it is believed that such bad luck or unwanted things would come back once more in the near future.
Picking the wrong burial sites
Not only the burial site itself, date and time would also be essentially and thoughtfully noticed. Any mistake in choosing a good time and site to bury the dead can wreak ill fortune and disaster upon the family’s future.
Below are some rules to be avoided:
- Pick a burial venue near a big rock
- Pick a burial venue near sand dune and swift-flowing water flow
- Pick a burial venue near canal and wilderness
Wild scenery (Source: Google)
- Pick a burial venue at the top of the mountain
- Pick a burial venue near the campus of holy shrines such as temples and pagodas.
Carrying a casket (Source: Google)
- Pick a burial venue near melancholy scenery
- Pick a burial venue near a flooded land
- Fast movement while carrying the casket in case the lost body would be impacted.
Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is the perfect example of a carefully calculated artistic masterpiece.
Looking back after entombing
After entombing the lost body, the living ones are expected not to turn their heads back to pay one more look at the solemn site. This can be explained that the lost member would follow the living members back home.
Letting sunlight face directly to the tomb
The act of asking for the right date and time is not always seen as a taboo, yet it holds a scientific fact behind, which means the movement of the Sun can somehow affect the entombing procedure. Sometimes, the entombing process is carried out when night falls. This can be understood in a way that the effect of sunlight will fast devastate the dead body. The lack of sunlight will help preserve the whole body for ages.
If you find this list helpful, feel free to bookmark the site and fast open it in the future when needed. If you are not from an Asian ethnic background, our advice above can be super useful in case you happen to be invited to a funeral in the country. Some of the rules are still widely applied in other Asian countries. Thus, adopt this new Vietnam history and culture and avoid feeling lost.
Learn more about Vietnam history and culture here:
- Vietnamese food-related superstitions | Six faulty hindsight
- Unravel the delusion between two big Vietnamese holidays in Lunar July
- Vietnam Heritage Journey