Strange cemeteries in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – There are special cemeteries for humans and for animals in Vietnam.

Cemeteries without tombs

The Ma Da Cemetery in Vinh Cuu district in the southern province of Dong Nai is called “graveyard of no tombs.”

This cemetery is over 70 hectares and it has the above name because this is the cemetery of thousands of war martyrs whose remains have not been found yet.

The cemetery is located in the former D military base in the Vietnam War, where thousands of soldiers sacrificed and they were buried here, waiting for the day of victory. Under bombs and bullets, tombs were leveled. So far only 60 sets of remain have been identified here.

The cemetery of artists

This graveyard is inside a small valley on Thong Nhat Road, Ward 11 of Go Vap district, HCM City, in a small Buddhist temple named Nhat Quang.

This cemetery was set up by People’s Artist Phung Ha around half of a century ago, to commemorate cai luong artists and people who deserved well to the cai luong art.

The cemetery currently has nearly 700 tombs of cai luong artists of many generations, including the biggest names like Nam Do, Ba Van, Nam Chau, Ut Tra On, Thanh Ton, Thanh Nga, etc.

Cemetery of eunuchs

This special cemetery is located inside one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in the ancient capital city of Hue – Tu Hieu temple.

The cemetery is only 50 from the temple, with 22 tombs, including 2 tombs without remains. These are the tombs of eunuchs of the Nguyen Dynasty. Though they died on different days, they have the same death’s anniversary, the 15th day of lunar November.

According to a Hue specialist Phan Thuan An, an eunuch raised fund to restore this temple and chose it as his last resting place and other eunuchs. The eunuch is Chau Phuoc Nang, who served King Thieu Tri.

Cemetery for whales

The largest graveyard in Vietnam is situated in the coastal village of Tam Hai in Nui Thanh district of the central province of Quang Ngai.

Nobody knows when the first tomb of a whale was set up here. But the custom of worshipping whales has been passed from generation to generation in the village. Local people’s means of subsistence is the sea and they worship whales to show their gratitude to the giant fish of the ocean, which have mysterious power.

The graveyard has 529 tombs for dead whales that floated to the coast of Tam Hai in the past centuries. Local people consider whales as the God of the Sea who protects them before rough waves and strong wind.

Tombs are built with soil. Coffins and steles are made by bamboo. Funerals of whales used to be held very solemnly, with funeral oration and the presence of mandarins of district or commune levels. The first person who discovered the whale body was allowed to wear mourning for the whale. It is believed that this person would meet with fortune.

The death anniversary is held for each whale annually. In addition, a great death anniversary for all whales is organized once a year, in the spring, to wish for a lucky year of catching.

Cemetery without gravestones

Normally, a tombstone is the most important part in Vietnamese tombs. However, a cemetery in Long Son commune of Vung Tau city does not follow that tradition. The burial-ground is called Nho Lon (Big House). Is that the reason for the cemetery to be recognized as a national relic?

According to the people who manage the cemetery, all tombs in this burial-ground do not have tombstones because all people in Long Son commune are followers of Tran religion. According to this religion’s catechism, dead people are of the same rank and equal, so they do not need tombstones.

Therefore, families of the dead have to remember the position of their relatives’ tombs or they have to use own sign to differentiate the tomb from others.

The cemetery of “poetic” tombs

This is the most romantic burial-ground in Vietnam. It is located under the foot of Ba Den Mount in Duong Minh Chau district of the southern province of Tay Ninh.

There are a hundred tombs in the graveyard and all of them are covered by poems, which are written on tomb walls.

According to a tomb builder, ten years ago, the wife of an old man who was good at writing poems passed away. The man loved his wife very much. He buried his wife in this cemetery. Being in deep love with the woman, he visited her tomb every afternoon. He cried and read poems for her. He wrote poems on conjugal affection on her tomb by paint. Since then other people have learned from him to paint poems on tombs of their relatives.

Visiting this burial-ground, one will have a chance to read a hundred poems about love and family sentiment.

Tomb builders at this cemetery are required to be good at their professional skills and to know a lot of poems to do their job well.

Graveyard for dogs and cats

The cemetery for dogs and cats is built inside a 2,000sq.m resort of Mr. Nguyen Bao Sinh, at No.30.167 Truong Dinh, Hoang Mai district, Hanoi.

Sinh used to be called a mad man because he spent VND4 billion (nearly $300,000) to build a hotel for dogs and cats and then bought an incinerator for cats.

However, he is not a wacky man because many people agree with him that animals also have souls and bodies and have incarnation. If humans can have cemeteries, why can’t  dogs and cats not have them?

Many young people buried their pets at Sinh’s cemetery and they visit the cemetery very often.

Sinh said that the cemetery was built in 1975 but until 2009 it began operation stably and then became a resort for dogs and cats. Around 1,000 dogs and cats are buried at this place.

Tombs of dogs and cats are carefully taken care. They also have gravestones, noted with their birthday and death day. Owners of dead pets and the resort staff burn incenses for these animals very often.

Compiled by P. Linh