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The cult of water Genie in Ha Nam

Water Genie is worshipped in some temples such as Lanh, river mouth, Le Chan temple and Ba Phong Common House.

The cult of worshipping the genie of water was an old and popular practice in the water place, which originated from the belief that everything has its own spirit. Researches on the legends and worship customs within the region showed that the practice had a long history and still left quite lots of important marks these days.

The first destination is Cua Song (river mouth) temple is called in different names like Tam Giang, Co Bo, Mau Thoai. The temple located in Yen Lac hamlet, Moc Nam commune, Duy Tien district. The temple was built on a mound rising from the river where Red river and Lanh Giang river met. Lanh Giang was indeed a string of Red river. The present of water somehow forms the mound.

This is often the explanation why the temple was also known as Tam Giang (three river). These days, Lanh Giang had been shrank into a really little steam. But it used to be a really massive river with fierce currents and deadly whirls that regularly threaten people's lives. That is why the temple became so miraculous. People flock here to wish everyday. Later, because the current modified its direction, the mound was blown off therefore the temple was moved into the land.

The temple was built by the Red river. In the festival season at the temple, people had boat race and water procession, the practice closely relate to the worship of the water genie. The genie during this temple is called Mau Thoai, one in all the Four Palace Creeds, who is to take care of the total region.

Another temple that had a detailed history with Cua Song temple is Lanh Giang temple or Chinh temple or De Tam temple. This is the temple that worshiped 3 Generals who had huge merit in protecting the country from the invasion of the North in King Hung period. Legend has it that they're the sons of water genie and was initially born within the form of 3 snakes.

The temple was built right by the riverbank, at the foot of the dike where people can call in and pray any time they pass by. The genie in the form of a snake is quite a popular symbol in the cult of worshiping water genie. In Lanh Giang festival, people also hold boat racing water procession; those are varying typical activities of the water worship belief. Lanh Giang is just 100m from Cua Song temple, that features a robust influence of this belief on the people's non secular life.

Vestiges of the water genie worship can be seen in the dragon sculptures on Sung Thien Dien Linh steles and each wall in the temple. Dragon is the holy image in the rice cultivation culture, which represents people's needs for good natural condition for agriculture. The image of dragon is the combination of the form of a snake and a crocodile, that are acquainted with animals in a watery region.

This image was originated from the practice of worshiping the snake and crocodile as their totems. Legend has it that the Father of the traditional Viet, Lac Long Quan, was a snake. Then the 2 animals were symbolized in the form of a dragon. In Vietnam's feudal period, dragon was the image of the royalty as well as the power of the feudalism.

The legend about Van Xa's genie also offers another example of the cult of worshiping the water genie. The tutelary genie of the village was born from the form of a snake. When the dike was broken in a flood, he spread out his body to fix the broken dike and restrict the water from sweeping the total village.

The genie in Da Tien Phong (An Nong hamlet, Tien Phong commune, Ly Nhan district) was a feminine general in Trung sisters' army. When she passed away, a dragon with a golden boat appeared and took her to the heaven.

Those are the cultural values of folk belief that were preserved in the stories and legends that are currently still orally handed down. We are able to see the illustration of this belief by viewing the practice of worshiping, in festivals in Ha Nam.

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