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The traditional ceremony of the Kho Mu ethnic people was re-enacted at the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay Town, as part of the cultural activities held during the Viet Nam Cultural Heritage Week 2015, which opened on November 15.
The Kho Mu people hold rituals to pray for rain before the crop season begins with seeds being sown in the fields. They pray for their ancestors and the support of genies for a bumper crop. The rituals reflect their belief in nature’s soul.
“The ritual has been practised for a long time and it usually begins in April each year,” Quang Van Ta from To Cuong Village in Dien Bien, who is head of the ceremony, said.
“They pray for a bumper crop, for favourable weather conditions, and for better living conditions for locals, as well as for their health and happiness,” he said.
The ritual, lasting more than an hour, is divided into two main parts, including a ceremony held to worship ancestors and gods. It is followed by a festival with traditional dances, folk songs and games.
Ta said the ritual date was not fixed but was decided upon by a villager elder.
“The day begins with working in the field early in the morning where the locals prepare seeds for sowing. Then we go back home to conduct the ritual,” he said.
The whole village joins one single ritual where villagers contribute work and offerings.
“We organise the ritual before the beginning of a new crop season in the hope that the plantation receives sufficient rain water and enjoy friendly climatic conditions,” Ta said.
The ritual helped particularly to strengthen the solidarity between locals in the village, he said, adding that all the people in the village would join the meetings and preparations for the ritual and then enjoy singing, dancing and playing traditional games together.
“This is also an opportunity for locals to meet and exchange experiences on cultivation,” he said.
The cultural heritage week, which lasts till November 23, also features traditional ceremonies and festivals of other ethnic groups such as the Ta Oi praying for a bumper crop, the San Chay wedding ceremony and the Thai hair-washing festival.