In the past, the people who held hau dong rituals wore a red head covering and used fruit as offerings. Nowadays, each act of hau dong performance requires a set of sophisticated clothes. Money invested in the performances. For buying offerings and bestowing its followers may be more than one thousand dollars.
In the 1940s, music at hau dong rituals was performed by professional musicians and singers. Chau van singing is a professional art. Prof Tran Van Khe consideres chau van and ca tru, the ceremonial songs, as two valuable pieces of musical heritage in Viet Nam.
Nowadays, most chau van singers are amateurs. Some tuong, cai luong and cheo singers perform chau van on the side to help earn a living. These singers tend to infuse other musical styles into chau van.
No religion exists that teaches people to do bad things. Some people just take unfair advantage of religion for their own purposes.
The original characters in hau dong were meant to be religiously, spiritually and culturally significant, but it has been exploited. In some cases, fake mediums may corrupt the use of hau dong to seek profit from followers. The ritual is at risk of becoming a profit-driven scheme.
In the past, all mediawere considered to posses special power to communicate with gods. The rites were rooted in the people s spiritual life and were organised with the deepest respect to the proper order and manner of the ritual.
The people should be equipped with judicious knowledge on the religion and the ritual activities. When they understand the origin and substance of hau dong, I believe that they will do it in the correct way.
Hau dong seeks to be nominated by UNESCO to be recognised as part of the world s cultural heritage. From the point of view of a scholar, what s your opinion?
We shouldn t nominate hau dong too quickly. Before asking the world to recognise hau dong, we must ask the Vietnamese people if they recognise it.
It would be very good if hau dong were to be recognised by the world, but the most important issue is how we preserve the heritage here.
First, we need to research and acknowledge the characters and values of the ritual. We also shouldn t be in a hurry to show it off as a performance, when hau dong s value within all of Vietnamese society is still debated. VNS