New Whale Temple

Friday - 16/10/2020 13:09
People saved by the whale is not uncommon in Vietnamese. The mammal is even worshipped by coastal communities in the central of Vietnam for centuries, as a way to express their gratitude. This is a unique cultural and religious practice. Respectably named Sir or Giant or Sir Offshore, the whale is believed as God of the Sea, born from the Bohisattva’s kasaya to help the fishermen in need. While fishing offshore, if encourtering unfavorable weather or accidents, fishermen will pray the whale for protection and help. In return, if any whale is found in need, fishermen will try to save; or if it dies, the community will conduct a formal funeral, burying, and worshipping it in a temple. The first fisherman found Him would be considered as the Oldest Son and wears mourning for three years.

The whale is worshipped across the central region but whale temples are exceptionally dense in Ly Son Island and whale skeletons may outnumber elsewhere. There are seven whale temples across the island with dozens skeletons in each. The skeletons are aged few decades to 300 years, along with the history of exploring the island. The Island is considered as the largest museum of whale skeletons in Vietnam.

Among the whale temples on the Island, this New Whale Temple, dedicated to three whales, in which the skeleton of King Dong Dinh has been seen as the largest in Vietnam so far with length of 28.7 meters. Bones placed in wooden boxes covered by red fabric are stored behind the altar. A ritual is held on every third day of the fifth lunar month by local fishermen to pray for a productive fishing season.

This temple is granted provincial cultural monument in 2015 by Quang Ngai Province.
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