It was probably 14 meters long and weighed 15 tons, and towing it to land would be a challenge, but Sau and the other fishermen decided to do it anyway. It took them nearly seven hours to bring it to Mui Ne in Phan Thiet town on the south-central coast. Locals organized a funeral for the animal, placed it in a shroud and buried it with respect. After a period of time the bones will be dug up, carefully cleaned and placed in a temple for worshiping.
Why these solemn rituals for a dead animal? To fishermen in Vietnam, especially on the central and southern coasts, the whale is not just any animal; it is worshiped as Ca Ong, or “Lord Whale.” who protects them at sea. Ca Ong is a deity who helps them overcome all hazards at sea, and so fishermen pray to the whale for a safe trip every time they go fishing. This is a practice that has been followed for generations.
Reprinted from June 16, 2019