What Is Ancestor Worship?
Ancestor worship is a practice, notably common in Chinese culture, of paying respect to or venerating deceased relatives. It is not a religion per-se, but a belief that one’s ancestors have the ability to perceive and influence worldly events and the lives of their descendants. Ancestor Veneration is a form of Ancestor Worship that focuses more on celebrating and revering the lives of deceased relatives. Respect for and remembrance of ancestors is a keystone of the tenets of the ancient practice of Ancestor Worship. Most forms of ancestor worship involve offerings to deceased relatives of worldly goods such as food or incense.
These offerings are thought to still hold significance to the deceased relatives. Offerings are meant to appease and engender goodwill to those venerating their ancestors and are often thought of as showing respect for ones forefathers. These offerings can be presented at a shrine in a family’s home or can be brought to a temple or place of communal worship during proscribed holiday times. Ancestor worship encompasses many practices around the world from China to Africa; some of the earliest examples are recorded in ancient China all the way back to 1000BC. Many Asian countries practice one form or another of Ancestor Worship or Veneration that stem from the profound cultural respect for elders in society that is a pervasive notion throughout the preponderance of Asia.
In Vietnam, Ancestor Worship is an important part of society; even extending to celebrations of the day of a person’s death rather than the day of their birth. Ancestor Worship is also common among Hindus in India. Worship rituals and remembrances occur for ten days post death and also on the six month and one year anniversaries at which family members prepare favorite dishes that the deceased enjoyed in life.