Local graves

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Hillside graves

No matter how colorful or scenic the countryside, gravesites always catch the eye. They add color, character, mystery, and wonder to an already brilliant landscape. Countless tombs can easily be found on even the shortest bicycle or motorbike excursion around Nha Trang's surrounding countryside (or anywhere in Vietnam for that matter). The tombs appear not only in proper cemeteries but unexpectedly on random hillsides, in the middle of rice paddies, or in the shaded yards of family farmhouses.

Whether living or deceased, Vietnamese family ties are very strong and tombstones reflect those ancestral bonds with dignity and style. Generally, the body of a deceased Viet person is buried in a wooden coffin at a public cemetery for about three years, then exhumed.

Shaded grave
By this time, family members have completed their mourning period and the eternally living soul of the deceased has moved on to join other ancestors in the next life. The remaining bones are cleansed and bleached by trained specialists (not family members), properly arranged, carefully positioned in smaller ceramic coffins, and finally re-buried at either the same location or at one of the family's choice. The latter would be at one of the favorite places of the deceased which is usually at or near the family farmland.

The tombs are usually constructed of poured concrete and covered with paint or ceramic tiles depending on the wealth of the family. They can be fairly simple or elaborately decorated with ornaments, fences, or even portal shading. Most have a small altar for burning incense; and in some of those, a portrait and brief history of the deceased.

Remote rice paddy
Christian tombs are marked by a cross while the majority Buddhist graves have a swastika which is the Buddhist symbol for eternity.

During the Tet Holiday (lunar new year) the Vietnamese honor their ancestors and graves are cleared of grass or weeds, cleaned of dirt and moss, and often repainted. That is the best time to see these remarkable memorials. Common sense told me to give these burial grounds the same courtesy and respect that I would give my own ancestors' and on the several occasions that I encountered family members performing gravesite maintenance, they never seemed bothered or disturbed by my presence. In fact, they seemed appreciative, and maybe even honored, that a foreigner would want to take a photograph of their ancestor's tomb.

reikunboy says:
Very interesting
Posted on: Mar 29, 2013
bigmac993 says:
Very unique blog subject! Enjoyable!
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013
spocklogic says:
It's wonderfully colorful and there's a sense of something vibrant and living here, even so it's a place for the departed. I've seen all sorts of graveyards, but never one quite like this. Thanks for sharing this here.
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013
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Hillside graves
Hillside graves
Shaded grave
Shaded grave
Remote rice paddy
Remote rice paddy
Springtime colors
Springtime colors
Overlooking the bay
Overlooking the bay
Christian graves
Christian graves
New graves
New graves
Christian cemetery
Christian cemetery
Partially painted grave for the ne…
Partially painted grave for the n…
Colorful cemetery
Colorful cemetery
Colorful tombs
Colorful tombs
Christian and Buddhist graveyard
Christian and Buddhist graveyard
Colorful Christian tombs
Colorful Christian tombs
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85