Dao Hoa Hao , also Hoahaoism, is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam.
Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương (Sino-Vietnamese 寶山奇香). The founders of these traditions are regarded by Hòa Hảo followers as living Buddhas—destined to save mankind from suffering and to protect the Vietnamese nation. Hòa Hảo claims approximately two million followers throughout Vietnam; in some provinces near its Delta birthplace, as many as 90 percent of the population practice this tradition. An important characteristic of this movement is its emphasis on peasant farmers, exemplified by the old slogan, “Practicing Buddhism While Farming Your Land”. Hòa Hảo stresses the practice of Buddhism by lay people in the home, rather than focusing primarily on temple worship and ordination.
Aid to the poor is favored overpagoda-building or expensive rituals; religious and social ceremonies are ideally simple and modest, and are not to include the food offerings, divination services, and elaborate wedding and funeral customs found in some manifestations of Southeast Asian life. These are viewed as a waste of money which would be better spent helping the needy.
In Hòa Hảo homes, a plain brown cloth serves as an altar, at which the family prays morning and night. Separate altars are used to honor ancestors and the sacred directions. Only fresh water, flowers, and incense are used in worship; no bells or gongs accompany prayers. A believer away from home at prayer times faces west (i.e., toward India) to pray to the Buddha. Adherents are expected to attend communal services on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month and on other Buddhist holy days.
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