The Soul Worship Ceremony in Memory of the Fall of the Capital Event
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The Soul Worship Ceremony is held on the 23rd day of the fifth lunar month. This is a form of worship that the ceremony takes place in each family and in each group, organization and collective of people who share the same profession, and are in the same village, hamlet, and ward.
Address: 122 Mai Thuc Loan, Dong Ba Ward, Hue City
Opening Time: 23 May lunar calendar

Why do all Hue people organize the Soul Worshiping Ceremony?

On August 1, 1883, the French fired cannons at Thuan An. On the evening of August 20, Thuan An fell; the gate to the capital was opened. The court was bewildered, only Ton That Thuyet insisted on fighting the French. The defensive battle he and his colleagues had long been preparing for was about to explode. On the night of July 4, 1885, Ton That Thuyet led the armed struggle against the French. Hit the lair of Mang Ca and the Toa Kham harbor on the Perfume River. Our troops fought bravely. Ton That Thuyet planned the attack very carefully, but because of the poor weaponry, he lost the battle. The enemy captured the city and burned, raped, killed, and plundered everyone. A very painful and tragic runaway occurred. There are hardly any families that have not lost their lives in this event. The hardest hit was the number of people in the Imperial City. The 23rd day of the fifth lunar month (5-7-1885) from then on has turned into a great anniversary, the annual "feast day" of the whole city of Hue. They offer to all the dead: soldiers, people, officials, workers, for many reasons: either they were crushed to death, or they were killed by French bullets, or they fell off the citadel when they tried to climb out of the city, or their feet fell into the dense lake in the city, especially Tinh Tam lake and so on. between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. on May 23, the year of the rooster.

The main day of the ceremony is May 23. But for individual families, it can be depending on the family that organizes from May 23 to May 30.

For collective organizations and wards in the city, the day of worship is not strictly regulated. But usually the main day is still May 23 Organizations of soul worship on May 23 are automatically organized by the people in villages, hamlets, wards and communes in the province, people of the same profession, living together such as small and large markets, associations, pagodas, charitable organizations. Almost all families and collective organizations in Hue are eager with the soul worship due to their sympathy for those who died in the event tragically and unjustly, the soul is helpless, there is no one to make offerings, so offering a beautiful meaningful soul is for the "ten kinds of sentient beings", not really for relatives in their families. That is the vast and beautiful humanity.

During the holidays, countless places are set up to worship the soul in the city. Ceremonial music reverberated everywhere, the incense spread all night and day. At night, the offerings of each family are placed in front of the house, the incense is placed.

Offering more or less depending on the family, but at least there must be sweet soup, porridge, salted rice, fruit, bouquets, incenses, joss paper,  five colored paper, betel, wine. Especially in the ceremony, from the family to the collective, remember there is a large jar of water or a full container of tea water and a fire next to the altar. People believed that souls would come to drink water and warm themselves by the fire, because many of the people in the event died of thirst, and died of cold in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.

It is the mercy of the dead along the road, along the street, so the altar must be placed in front of the yard (if it is a relative and dies in the house, then the altar table is arranged). It is clear that this practice of worshiping the soul shows the immense kindness of the people of Hue.

The most solemn ritual of worshiping the soul is held at temples in Hue city. The oldest Soul Temple is the temple on the corner of Mai Thuc Loan and Le Thanh Ton streets, located in the east of the city, about 300 meters from the Dong Ba gate, this temple was built in 1895, after the event of losing the capital for ten years, undergoing changes, now still.

The ritual process of worship at the soul temple every year is as follows:

On May 22, set up an outdoor place, and decorate the worship area at the temple and the altar table in the open air. Another year set up a station of fallen soldiers in front of the shrine.

On the morning of May 23, at about 7 am, the opening ceremony of the sutra and chanting ceremony was held.

At noon on May 23, worship according to religious rituals.

On the afternoon of May 23, at 14 o'clock, soul worships according to the ritual of Confucianism. The most important thing is the celebrant and the speaker. Memorial services are held at the Memorial Hall.

The ceremony lasted all afternoon. The main part of the ceremony is giving the worship chanting Through many collected texts, we see that the writer has conveyed a boundless emotion to the people attending the ceremony:

"Young and old, led each other, on their feet, the head fell down from shoulders.

Little baby crying mother, wife calling husband, the sound not yet end, unbroken bones have piled up.

When they were lost in the hammock, suddenly lightning struck, did not live forever.

How poor children in the cradle, dying with a white stomach.

Loving those who carry palanquin, who owes heavily to the king, only are surrounded by horse skin that worth, angry due to "unfulfilled death"

Woe to the girls who wore slippery jackets, rejoiced in talent and beauty, buried in mud whether they bear, worth the "useless babies" destiny.

Heavy rain under the dark sky, all the people who cast out demons, a region buried both the rich and the poor. After three beats of the drum, know what fate is, three yards of soil fill me or you”

The one who caused the tragedy was the French invading army:

“Who would have thought that the year of the Rooster, the month of May, not yet the full moon.

Disgusting the waves in the West, the French army shot up.

The smoke and fire brought people to the nine streams, bodies nowhere to be found.

You'll be cowardly or wealthy, then you'll be born in three lives, and you'll be out of your mind."

Facing of that tragedy, may the souls quickly escape, and may the spirits of those who support the Fatherland endure. That is the meaning that the speaker wants to convey:

“The soul of east and west, the soul of the north and south, does not call the soul back.

Oh widows, widowers, orphans, servants without a master, how lucky I remain, may I worship

Worshiping fathers, uncles, aunts, and all, a group of pain crying for the previous one, born and death love is no different from own body.

Yellow paper flower aroma, wine, and salt tea, a little call to taste the breath, please taste the heart, that is, fellow-country, waterfalls are considered alive. Spirit of the gods, for the Fatherland to last forever.

This is a national language, that wishes for dynamic aspirations.

Oh dear! Please take. "

The evening is the mediation forum held by the monks. The celebrant of the ceremony was a monk, of noble age, standing on either side were six scribes. The meaning of this ordinance is to pray for the release of the spirits. After the ceremony, there is a form of release: birds, eels, fish, etc.

During the ceremony, the celebrant sometimes took the sticky rice and zinc coins placed in a large tray to be thrown into the yard. The children crowded together to pick up the coins and put them on their necks to exclude evil demons.

After the ceremony, on June 12 of the lunar calendar, it was customary to go to the mass grave of those who died on the day of the capital's fall (the location near the economic mausoleum, on the way to Tra Am pagoda, there were two mass graves buried in the May 6 incident) at Ngu Binh mountain (these people were buried sketchily until the body was removed in the inner city, it was found that the area with the most corpses was the area adjacent to the current soul temple. Perhaps the road leading to the gate of Chinh Dong was the road of the people rushing and running, the French troops entering the city also followed the gate of Chinh Dong, so the killing was catastrophic. When digging a crematorium, people see that there are hats and ivory tablets of mandarins together with horses.)

The practice of worshipping the soul began years after the event, lasted until now, no year was interrupted, although, over the past hundred years, Hue has experienced many events, and suffered many painful losses. However, the scale and form of sacrifice depend on each historical period that there is a transformation.

During the monarchy era, on the day of the ceremony, Mrs. Tu Cung allowed soldiers to bring offerings to the temple. At the time of the ceremony, officials of the Imperial City also came to the ceremony. Every year, when the offerings of goods and money are plentiful, the organizers let the cows and pigs be sacrificed.

After the ceremony, the poem "Fallen of the Capital" was recounted by the elderly artist, Lao Moi, with a few passages reminiscent of the horror of the chaos in 1885 (including 80 verses, from 391 to 470). (For "Fallen of the Capital" collected by Le Van Hoang, the manuscript written by Lao Moi)

During the successful revolutionary years, the custom of worshiping the soul was still maintained. In these years, combining the offering of the soul with the help of the poor who are still alive, the Organizing Committee donated money to buy cut fabrics for the poor, showing love to cover fellow human beings with "good leaves to cover torn leaves" is full of humanitarian significance.

The custom of worshipping the soul is a beautiful custom with humanitarian love, meaning compatriots and ethnic minorities, it has the full meaning of a folk festival with bold national colors, representing a cultural land./.