Celebrating a new harvest season is one of the biggest events of the year for the Ba Na ethnic minority in the Central Highlands region.
The event includes a ceremony to thank heaven and earth, then festive activities to entertain the community.
A Ngưi, the culture officer in Kbang District’s Culture, Sports and Information Centre, said this period of the year is the right moment for the community to celebrate the new rice crop.
When the elders in the villages see the rice is mature and has turned yellow, they will choose a date and inform the villagers to prepare for the ceremony.
They prepare offerings and decorations, which include a pig of some 90-100kg and two chickens.
According to local customs, each family should bring one chicken and one jar of wine, as well as some newly made cốm (sticky young rice flakes).
Ba Na people can host the ceremony as a family or with the whole village in the yard of the communal house.
The oldest man of the village assigns the middle-aged men to prepare the altar while women arrange jars of wine and bring water to the site.
Some other women make sticky rice flakes right at the site, while the oldest man then prays for the rivers, mountains and nature.
“Dear all gods, God of Rice, God of River, God of Mountain, today we host a ceremony to celebrate the new crop, we would like to invite all of you here to drink, to eat and share happiness with us…,” he would say. “Please bless us with good health and good crops this and next year…”
Women process rice flakes while men kill a chicken and put its blood on the bamboo altar.
“They then will use take the bamboo sticks with chicken blood to the forest, then home to lead the soul of rice to their home,” A Ngưi said.
All young people in the village would then shout out loud, beat on drums, gongs, and dance around the altar.
Then they visit each home to congratulate, eat young rice and drink wine.
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