Hao* welcomes waves of people into his home today. Friends crowd his sitting room sipping on the hot green tea his wife prepared for them. He smiles and nods at the turn out, feeling honored that so many have come to honor the death anniversary of both his father and his older brother.
Idols and altars abound throughout the country of Vietnam. Small bowls filled with food and burning incense sit outside the entrance to most restaurants. Larger shrines with photos of deceased ancestors and their daily offerings are the focal point of many homes. Nearly everywhere you go, the smell of burning incense is not far away.
Though the peoples of Vietnam practice a number of religions, the prevailing religious practice among most Vietnamese is ancestor worship.
The majority of Vietnamese people take great care in preserving the memories of their ancestors and honoring them with regular prayers and offerings. Ancestor worship is such an integral part of Vietnamese culture that many would not even recognize it as a religion—it’s just a part of life.
Triangular hats bob up and down in platform rice fields that look like giant steps up the mountainside. Children chase chickens and stray dogs around the poles of stilted bamboo houses while their parents, mostly the women, do back-breaking work in fields to try to scrape up enough food for the day.