Welcoming-the-Lord Festival

In Can Thanh commune, Can Gio district, Ho Chi Minh City, there is a religious place called the Lord Mausoleum or the Lord Residence, which is dedicated to the cult of whale. The whale, also named “Southern Sea Governor of Lord” by the local population, is regarded as Patron-Saint for fishermen.
At the Lord Mausoleum we can see two big glass boxes containing the whale bones collected at Can Thanh.
The festival in honour of the Lord starts in the morning of the 16th day of the 8th lunar month with the ritual of inviting the Lord. The big boat of the Mausoleum is elaborately decorated with flowers, religious flags, banners, images of dragon and chrysanthemum. It carries the altar and votive offerings for the Lord, the officiants and other notables.
Escorted by hundreds of other smaller boats, the big boat departs for the Den Trang Light house – the boundary between Can Gio and Vung Tau. Here, at around 11 o’clock, the ceremony of invoking the Lord’s spirit begins under the command of the chief officiant. The participants offer to the Lord incense, alcohol and tea, and pray for peace, happiness, good weather, good harvests, etc. To the accompaniment of drums and gongs, the boats move around to wait for the sea water to surge. Water surges are believed to testify to the Lord’s presence.
On the way back to the shrine, the participants share the food – the votive offerings believed to have been partaken by the Lord.
At the Lord Mausoleum, another ceremony is held in honour of the Lord, the founders of the village and the pioneers of the region as a whole. A feast is held afterwards.
The principal sacrificial ceremony is conducted at the midnight of the 16th day of the 8th lunar month. The sacrifice is a white pig and the votive offerings include two trays of sticky rice, alcohol, tea, flowers and fruits.
The entertainment part of this festival includes many folk games, fireworks and classical opera performances which praise loyalty, uprightness and justice.

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