Vietnamese Words Used in Religion and Ceremonies

Vietnamese culture is steeped in spiritual symbolism and tradition, making religion and ceremonies a vital aspect of daily life. Understanding the language used in these contexts can greatly enhance your comprehension and appreciation of Vietnamese culture. This article explores key Vietnamese words used in religious and ceremonial contexts, providing insights into their meanings, usage, and significance.

General Religious and Ceremonial Terms

Thờ is a term that you will encounter frequently in religious contexts. It translates to “worship” and is often used in reference to the practice of honoring ancestors at home or in temples.

“Chúng tôi thường xuyên đến chùa để thờ tổ tiên.”

Lễ means “ceremony” or “ritual” and is a prefix for many ceremonial occasions, whether they are religious or secular.

“Ngày mai là Lễ Phật Đản, chúng ta sẽ đi chùa.”

Tâm linh, meaning “spirituality,” captures the essence of what many ceremonies and religious practices aim to address — the spiritual realm.

“Cô ấy rất quan tâm đến vấn đề tâm linh.”

Buddhist Terminology

Buddhism is one of the major religions in Vietnam, and as such, its terminology is rich and varied. Chùa (temple) is where most Buddhist ceremonies take place.

“Hôm nay chúng ta đi chùa để cầu nguyện.”

Niệm Phật means to chant the name of Buddha, a common practice in Vietnamese Buddhism.

“Bà hay niệm Phật vào mỗi buổi sáng.”

Tăng già refers to the Buddhist monastic community, including monks and nuns.

Tăng già sẽ tụng kinh trong lễ Vu Lan.”

Catholic Terminology

With a significant Catholic population, Vietnam also incorporates many terms from Catholicism. Nhà thờ is the Vietnamese word for “church.”

“Chúng ta hãy gặp nhau ở nhà thờ vào Chủ nhật.”

Giáo dân refers to laypeople or members of the congregation.

Giáo dân tại giáo xứ này rất đông.”

Thánh lễ is the Vietnamese term for “Mass,” a crucial aspect of Catholic worship.

“Thời gian thánh lễ là vào lúc 5 giờ chiều.”

Terms Used in Traditional Festivals

Vietnam is famous for its traditional festivals, many of which have their own unique vocabulary. Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is the most celebrated festival.

“Người ta mua sắm rất nhiều để chuẩn bị cho Tết.”

Trống refers to drums, often used in festivals to create rhythm and excitement.

“Tiếng trống trong lễ hội làm tôi rất phấn khích.”

Bánh chưng is a traditional rice cake, essential during the Tết festival.

“Mẹ tôi luôn làm bánh chưng vào dịp Tết.”

Words Related to Death and Mourning

In Vietnamese culture, death and mourning are treated with great solemnity and respect, reflected in the language used. Đám tang is the term for “funeral.”

Đám tang của ông sẽ được tổ chức vào ngày mai.”

Ma chay refers to the mourning period, which can last several days or even months.

“Gia đình sẽ ở trong ma chay trong ba tháng.”

Viếng means to visit or pay respects, usually at a funeral or during the mourning period.

“Họ đến viếng mộ người quá cố.”


Mastering these terms not only aids in communication but also deepens your understanding of the cultural significance behind Vietnamese religious practices and ceremonies. Whether visiting a temple, attending a festival, or participating in a family ritual, these words will help you engage more meaningfully with the Vietnamese community.

Learn a Language With AI 5x Faster

TalkPal is AI-powered language tutor. Learn 57+ languages 5x faster with revolutionary technology.