Explore Heritage

Tay Thien Mother Goddess worship recognised as national intangible heritage

March 10, 2020          2113 views
(MOCST)- The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has recognised the Tay Thien Mother Goddess worship in the northern province of Vinh Phuc as a national intangible cultural heritage.
The ceremony presenting the national intangible cultural heritage certificate on March 8 (Photo: vinhphuc.gov.vn)
The province’s Tam Dao District announced the Ministry’s recognition of the belief – one of the three most ancient religious practices in the northern region – at a ceremony held on March 8.

Along with the worship of the Hung Kings – the legendary founders of the nation, and Tan Vien Son Thanh – the God of Tan Vien Mountain, the worship of Tay Thien National Mother is one of the three most ancient rituals in the north.

Legend has it that under the reign of the seventh Hung King in Dong Lo there was a rich man called Lang Vi. He was generous and handsome. His wife was Dao Thi Lieu – a beautiful, gentle, resourceful and benevolent woman. They were very rich but didn’t have a child, so they often visited holy sites to pray for a child. One day they visited Thach Ban peak in the Tam Dao mountains and prayed for a child at a pagoda. 

After the third time, Lieu had a dream in which she saw a five-coloured mass of clouds covering the pagoda and releasing a scent. In the middle of the clouds appeared an eagle and then a group of beautiful fairies playing lutes, singing and dancing. Lieu suddenly woke up from the dream which she believed was good luck, and indeed she became pregnant. She gave birth on the 10th day of the fifth lunar month of the year of Giap Than, and named her child Lang Thi Tieu.

When Tieu was small, she was a precocious talent. By the time she reached 20, she was known as a talented and admirable heroine. Following an invasion, the Hung King ordered Lang Thi Tieu to recruit 3,000 soldiers. The king gave her more troops and horses and she defeated the enemy. Returning home in triumph, she was asked to enter the court. But she refused the king’s request and asked for permission to return to her hometown to take care of her parents. The king agreed, conferring the title “Tam Dao Son Tru Quoc Mau” (Tam Dao National Mother) and allowed her to rule Dong Lo.

After her parents passed away, she went to the Tay Thien pagoda on Thach Ban peak to pray to Buddha. On the way home the next day, she felt tired and took a break. It suddenly got dark. From a mass of five-coloured clouds an angel appeared and said: “The Heavenly Emperor ordered you to come back to Heaven, princess!” Then she washed herself carefully, followed the angel into the clouds and disappeared. It was the 15th day of the second lunar month. After she returned to Heaven, people in Dong Lo and surrounding areas built a temple to worship her.

Tay Thien is held annually from the 15th to the 17th day of the second lunar month to commemorate Mother Goddess Lang Thi Tieu.