The Outdoor God’s Altar in Vietnam

Who does the Outdoor God’s Altar worship?

The Outdoor God’s Altar {Vietnamese: Bàn Thông Thiên or Bàn Thiên) is used to worship God (Vietnamese: Ông Trời, Thượng Đế, Ngọc Hoàng, Đấng Tạo Hóa). Like most people in the world, Vietnamese people believe that there is God. They think that everything in the universe is born by God. God sees everything in the sky and the earth, even reading human thoughts and emotions. God always protects, helps the kind and punishes the wicked. In the view of Vietnamese, God is the supreme position, higher than even Buddha, Fairy.

How is Outdoor God’s Altar arranged?

Outdoor God’s Altar (known as Bàn Thiên or Bàn Thông Thiên in Vietnamese) is placed in the yard. Usually, it consists of a pillar made of bricks or an alive ceiba tree (Vietnamese: cây gòn), with a height of 1m 50cms, and a square piece of wood or a handmade terracotta tile above. It faces the center of the house. On this altar necessarily has a cylindrical incense burner with crockery placed at the center of the back end. On the right of the person from the house looking at is a vase of flower. On the left is a plate of fruit. In front of the incense burner, people place a plate of 4 small glasses of water. Behind the Outdoor God’s Altar can be a fence, or an ornamental plant or a pot of flower to make a screen. In front of the Outdoor God’s Altar, people fill the ground higher or cover handmade terracotta tiles so that after it rains, the ground would be dry fast. People also plant flowers or bonsais around it to make it becomes warm and solemn.

What is the advantage of placing the Outdoor God’s Altar?

The religions that worship God usually place God’s altar in the temple. Folk belief thinks that in an immense space, people communicate to God more easily. Sincere prayers and incense smoke go along with wind go to heaven more easily than when in a narrow space. Outdoors, the space is separate from the house, the prayer is easy to express all his worries and wishes to God.

How is the worship at the Outdoor God’s Altar?

On the altar, there is always a plate of fruit and a vase of flowers. Every morning and evening people burn incense, offer water. Every month on the 1st and the 15th of the lunar calendar, and every year on the celebration day of God (January 9th of the lunar calendar) and the lunar new year, people clean the altar and lay the offerings better than usual. Whenever encountering difficulties or accidents, they pray to God for support.

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