For centuries man has been obsessed with the mystic creatures of the sea, especially whales. From the largest animal, being the blue whale to the sperm whale, while there are a large number of species, hunting has left most of them highly endangered. What’s fascinating is that whales are actually evolved from not any marine animal but a now extinct semi-aquatic deer like land dweller.
Whales are important in many cultures. The Chinese believe that a whale with a man’s hands and feet once ruled the ocean. In Austria it is said that if a sunbeam falls on a young maiden entering womanhood, she will be whisked away in a whale’s belly while Canadian myths suggest that the Orcas where carved by Natsihlane from yellow cedar.
Ghanaians and Vietnamese however believe that whales are divine and address whales as ‘Lords’. According to Vietnamese culture any fisherman who finds the corpse of a whale washed ashore must hold a funeral for the ‘Lord’ like he or she would for his or her own parent.
In a country with such belief lies the Van Thuy tu temple; built in 1762 it is completely dedicated to whale worship. With over a 100 whale skeletons, most of which are easily a century or more old, the temple was declared a national relic only since 1996. The crown jewel of the Van Thuy tu temple is a majestic 22 meter whale skeleton which is said to belong to a whale that must have at least weighed 65 tons when it was alive.
Local fishermen refer to whales as ‘ngu ong’ meaning Mr.Whale. The whale god is one that is so powerful that the spirit can command waves and ensure the safety of seafarers. When whale carcasses are buried, a complex ceremony of rituals and traditions are followed. After 3 to 5 years, the bones are veiled and then taken to the temple where they will be placed for worship. Finding a Vietnam hotel in this region shouldn’t pose much of a hassle. Resort in Mui Ne is not exorbitantly priced and offer great facilities. Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa is one accommodation option you can consider as an ideal holiday getaway.
Umanga Kahandawaarachchi is a passionate travel writer who writes under the pen name, Maggie Tulliver. Her field of writing covers a wide array of content and articles related to travel and hospitality industry.