Ancient worship ceremony re-enacted in Thua Thien-Hue

At 8pm on April 2, the Xa Tac Worship Ritual ceremony was organized in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue to honor the ancient traditional custom of worship to the rice and soil gods of the country.

 

According to legend, the Xa Tac Altar was built by two genies of wet rice cultivation, Rice and Soil (Tac meaning rice and Xa meaning soil).

History books state that King Gia Long ordered the construction of the Xa Tac Altar in the proximity of the Hue Imperial Palace in Thuan Hoa Ward, present-day Hue City.

Legend has it that after acceding to the throne, people were not yielding towards the Nguyen Dynasty and hence the King ordered the Xa Tac Altar to be built to worship the Rice and Soil Genies and to pray for a powerful country and a prosperous people.

The King, as head priest, conducted the solemn ceremony dressed in royal robes and jeweled belts and was followed by a trail of liveried mandarins. The rulers who succeeded also followed the traditions and legitimized their authority by building the Nam Giao Esplanade, the Xa Tac Altar and the Temple of Literature.

Nam Giao and Xa Tac Worship Ritual ceremonies have been recently restored in Hue. The festival begins with the washing of hands and then burning of incense, welcoming of the genies, offering of white gems, chanting of eulogies, offering of wine, and then removing the offerings.

The Nam Giao Ritual often sees artists revive the traditions set during the Nguyen Dynasty. Artists perform Xa Tac, a ritual of sovereign offerings to the God of Earth and the God of Cereals, to wish for favorable weather and bumper crops.

The Ritual is dedicated to the primary gods of Heaven and Earth. Thus, under imperial rule in Vietnam, this was the most important sacrificial ceremony that was conducted.

Because of the historical and cultural significance and value of the Nam Giao Worship Ritual, the royal ceremony was restored and re-enacted during the previous Hue Festivals in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

By Van Thang – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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