There are many civil rites of hầu đồng. Each area has different way and chooses different time to organize rites with the own purposes and meanings. However, there are some general principles in rites of hầu đồng for mediums to know and learn to practice properly.
1. Time of Rites.
There are four main times in the year, when hầu đồng is organized at temples or pagodas, included:
- Rite of Thượng Nguyên Attendance in January of Lunar Calendar (Hầu thượng Nguyên), when people pray for the peace of over the year.
- Rite of Beginning of Summer Attendance in April of Lunar Calendar (Hầu vào hè) in purpose of praying for good weather, avoiding diseases.
- Rite of the end of Summer Attendance in July of Lunar Calendar (Hầu ra hè) in purpose of peace and health.
- Rite of New Year Eva in purpose of thanks giving to Gods and Buhda for supporting people.
The seventh Prince (Ông Hoàng Bảy) communion ceremony at Bảo Hà temple, Lào Cai province on July, 17th in lunar calendar every year is one of the rites of the end of Summer Attendance in July of Lunar Calendar (Hầu ra hè), which are organized to pray for fortune and peace.
Besides, on birthdays or descending ceremonies of divinities or saints: Mid-autumn ceremony (Attendance for the first Mother Goddess), Feb, 12th of lunar calendar (Attendance for Mother Goddess in Tuyen Quang Province), Feb, 15th of Lunar Calendar (Attendance for Mother Goddess in Sòng Sơn) or Descending ceremony of Mother Goddess in Phủ Dầy… for example, not only pagodas or temples but also mediums in many areas organize rites of hầu đồng . Scale and method depends on each medium or area. It’s time for people to address Gods and Saints their wish respectfully and pray for peace and health for their families and country.
On the other hand, some attendances are unexpectedly organized when temples or mediums cannot but do: forming or building a temple, praying or thanksgiving to divinities and saints before or after important affair for example.
2. Preparation for Attendance
- Choose the good and exclude the bad days.
- Ask permission for attendance by giving betrothal gifts as a bribe to the place organizing rite and discuss to arrange everything with temple staffs. After that, give betrothal gifts as a bribe to invite and inform time, location to Master of medium, instrumentalists (cung văn), shamen, friends or attendants and send to them something to arrange at ceremony.
- Prepare and arrange required clothing for each attendance. Check again time, vehicle, place and so on.
- Prepare offering for worshipping.
An altar with needed offerings for a ritual of hầu đồng.
3. Sequence of an Attendance
- Worship before attending a séance: Offerings include both vegetarian and meat; votive paper. Shaman invites Saints and Buddhas while mediums proper everything. Serving bud before or after attendance depends on time and suitable situation.
- Before Attendance: Medium invite master of medium or mediums of temples and shaman together with all friends and the faithful to take part in the attendance and make sure that offerings and everything are arranged all completely.
- Cover face with veil: If the medium is a newbie, it’s necessary to ask the master of medium for attending séance first and helping new-medium cover face with veil. After that, the ceremony begins with attendances one after another for reincarnation of Three Holy Mothers, Five Great Mandarines without removing veil until reincarnation of twelve Ladies of Honor, Ten Princes, Twelve Royal Damsels and Ten Boy Attendants, medium can remove veil and continue attending séances in order.
Xuân Trường and Văn Cường Attendants, Kim Liên actress in role of medium in a scene of covering face with veil in an attendance for reincarnation of Cô Bé Thượng Ngàn (Princess of Forest) in Tứ Phủ (Four Palaces) Showby Việt Tú Director.
Source: Viet Theater
4. Rites in an attendance
- Make signs: saints will make signs with the left hand and goddesses do it with their right hands. If it’s over five, saints and goddesses have to use both hands, for example, Chầu Lục, Chầu Mười, Ông Hoàng Bảy, Ông Hoàng Mười… After making signs, incarnating, saints can leave, remove veil or get into a trance. It depends on mediums and attendances
- Follow signs: Instrumentalist offers ritual music, medium offers suitable clothings for attendances. Medium need have a gargle with wine before starting the 1st
- Practices: Medium has to knee up and down 3 times and carry a thurible for Gods or Saints with a veil while Goddesses or Nymphs are offered with fan and kneeling down.
- Sanctify a Buddhist Statue: Show superme power of Gods or Divinities in taking notice of petitions or documents, offerings all over the temples, shrines or pagodas and evaluating faith of mediums or the faithful.
A scene of practicing in rituals of hầu đồng was reconstituted on stage of Tứ Phủ show by Việt Tú from Việt Theater.
Source: Việt Theater
- Solving public affairs: It’s shown in styles of dance in attendances (Dance offence, flag, fan, poetry painting… and so on) Dancing need to be decent and dignified, gentle and unhurried. Dancers particularly take notice of avoiding standing with back on or head the fence to altars. It’s necessary for mediums to show the stuff that Gods or Goddesses are made of.
- Sit as on a throne: Reincarnations will serve wine, betrothal gifts and enjoy ritual music or grant to reward to cung văn (instrumentalist) then announce, bless and grant bud with money or gifts.
- Grant bud in succession: Mediums at temples, shrines, incense carriers, shamen, instrumentalist, left and right attendants, new mediums, visitors, seniors, friends, family, partners, kitchen of local temples… etc, one after another.
A scene of granting buds after divine complete all missions: practices, sanctifying a Buddhist Statue or Solving public affairs. In mediumship, offerings are usually many different things: incense, betel and areca, food or even mirror, comb, handkerchief and money...
- After granting buds: Enjoy more one or two pieces of ritual music, commend and come out of the trance. It’s not necessary for medium to get into a trance so long that visitors can be tired or bored.
- Come out of the trance (leave): Medium can rise the veil up or use fan to cover face in order to come out of the trance. At that moments, attendants will cover veil on their own, lie the head down and move shoulders a little, raise theirs hands up in front of face or forehead then kowtow to finish attendance or move to the next.
- After attendance completed: prepare offerings with food, petition, votive paper, which are arranged solemnly on altar. Invite shamen or new-mediums on their own pray to show gratitude towards Gods or Goddesses. This can be done right after attendances or three days later, that depends on each situation and medium.
After all, say thank you to everyone taking part in rite and present gifts to them.
Reference to “Tín ngưỡng thờ Mẫu Tứ phủ - Chốn thiêng nơi cõi thực”-
by MA. Trần Quang Dũng -