Photographer A gets entranced by a traditional ritual

VietNamNet Bridge – Nguyen A is bewitched by the hau dong ritual, where a medium goes into a trance and incarnates as various deities. The photographer has witnessed thousands of these rituals in different parts of the country for more than 10 years, and captured them from as many angles, but his fascination remains even after publishing a new book on Saturday in Hanoi. The launching ceremony was accompanied by an exhibition of select photos from the book. The hau dong (or len dong and hau bong) ritual, a shamanistic worship of the Mother Goddess that has been recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, can last up to seven hours, during which the practitioner, a medium, incarnates a series of different deities and spirits, changing into a different set of costumes for each incarnation. Once the medium is “possessed,” he or she may perform a dance or imitate an action of the deity, including fencing, rowing a boat and drinking wine. The process is normally aided by chau van (ceremonial singing) performances by musicians and singers, which invoke the deities and induce the trance. A, based in HCM City, is already well-known for his collections on disadvantaged people, soldiers and people living on the Truong Sa (Spratlys) Archipelago and several UNESCO-recognised heritages in Vietnam. He holds the EFIAP title granted by The International Federation of Photographic Art for excellent photographers. “I did not know much about hau dong earlier, because it is rarely performed in the southern region,”… [Read full story]

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