The young bride readied herself to leave her family’s house forever. Her mother adorned her with blue, white and yellow flowers as the bride looked at her reflection in the mirror, admiring the beautiful silk dress that her grandmother made. A mix of emotions clouded her mind as she fought back tears. When would she see her family again? Her new home would be in another village two hours away. Yet a sense of excitement tried to fight its way through. She was happy to be getting married, and her parents were so glad that their last daughter would finally be taken care of.
Aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors buzzed about the house making the necessary preparations. Green tea in tiny cups were readied, along with the bride’s favorite cookies and candies. Her tiny grandmother beamed at her and displayed her new floral print dress she had sewn for the occasion. She was busy preparing the family altar where pictures of her late husband accompanied faces of other ancestors long passed.
At last, the groom arrived, along with his family and friends. Joyfully the families greeted each other and gathered around the snacks, sitting on the floor with their legs to one side. The groom grinned broadly at the bride who mustered up a sheepish smile. She was still very nervous about leaving soon.
After the welcome snacks, the bride and groom were ushered into the altar room for the ancestor worshiping ceremony—an integral part of a traditional Vietnamese wedding. They prayed and bowed to the bride’s deceased loved ones, asking for blessing upon the marriage. After they rose from the altar, each family member and guest took turns lighting incense sticks and offering up prayers.
With this part of the wedding ceremony complete, all of the guests and the bride’s family loaded up in their vehicles and made the two-hour journey to the groom’s village. They entered the groom’s house where another round of tea and snacks were served. Then just as they had with the bride’s family, the couple kneeled at the altar for the groom’s family and worshiped those who had passed. They again asked for blessings over the marriage, and again each wedding guest followed suit.
After the necessary customs, both families celebrated together at the union of their children. The groom’s mother placed a shiny gold ring upon the bride’s hand, and everyone congratulated the newlyweds.
The time had come for the bride to say goodbye to her family. She felt a lump form in her throat as she kissed her grandmother, mother, and father. A small tear escaped down her cheek, covered up instantly by her mother’s gentle touch. She watched them drive off down the dirt road and turned to begin her life with her new husband and his family.
For a majority of Vietnamese people, ancestor worship is an integral part of everything they do. From births to weddings to funerals to harvests, the peoples of Vietnam pray to their ancestors for blessings and peace.
Please pray for Vietnamese people who live in bondage to ancestor worship. Pray for those who are celebrating weddings by praying to the spirits of the dead. Ask God to show them the greatness of the covenant relationship offered to them by Jesus, the bridegroom (Revelation 21:9).