Thành hoàng (chữ Hán : 城隍) or Thần hoàng (神隍), Thần Thành hoàng (神城隍) refers to the gods or deities that is enshrined in each village's Đình in Vietnam. The gods or deities are believed to protect the village from natural disasters or calamities and bring fortune.
Thành hoàng is a Sino-Vietnamese word,literally referring to the city wall and the moat that surrounds it. It is also the Vietnamese pronunciation of Chinese Chénghuáng (or City God),which was adopted from Taoism.
No later than Đinh dynasty,each locality started to worship the mountain and river gods that ruled over a domain which encompassed their village. Later on,the government decreed the deification of late national heroes,righteous officials and loyal subjects,and specific localities were chosen to exalt these gods. Gradually other common folks took up the practice and worshipped their own gods to be blessed with protection and fortune.
Generally each village worships only one Thành Hoàng; however, it is not rare to see two or more gods enshrined simultaneously at a village. They are known collectively as Gods of Fortune (Phúc Thần).
Even these Gods were divided in three ranks
Apart from the ranked gods acknowledged by the government, there were villages that worshiped "demons" and "tainted gods" such as the Beggar God, the Serpent God, the God of Lecherousness, and others.
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