In the cultural fabric of northern Vietnam, traditions surrounding the treatment of the deceased reflect a profound reverence for ancestors. Contrary to cremation, which is believed to subject the departed to discomfort in the afterlife, temporary burial offers a serene and natural decomposition process within a temporary structure. After an extended period, typically around three years, during which the body decomposes, any remaining flesh is respectfully removed. The bones, considered sacred vessels of the soul, are then carefully collected for reinterment.
The reburial ceremony holds deep significance for family members, serving as a communal act of remembrance and reverence. Central to this ceremony is the pivotal role of the eldest son. Tasked with the solemn duty of cleaning the deceased’s skull, he carries the weight of ensuring the spiritual purity of the departed. This meticulous process extends to other family members, who meticulously cleanse the remaining bones, symbolizing the collective responsibility to honor and preserve the family’s lineage.
Each step in the reburial process is steeped in symbolism and tradition, reinforcing the interconnectedness between the living and the deceased. The collective effort to reunite the ancestors in a permanent resting place reflects a profound belief in familial unity, transcending the boundaries of life and death.