Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New rice ceremony

Every year, after harvest time, the Êđê ethnic minority have a new-rice party both to pay tribute to Gods and to celebrate their hard-won gains. Festivities and rituals differ from village to village, from minority to minority, but all means to show their gratitude to Gods and Heavens after a year of hard work.
Like new year holidays on Tết of Kinh majority, the ethnic minorities in the central highlands have new-rice parties by year-end. Anyway, it does not take place at the same time but house after house, village after village. So the party lasts for days. It’s time for a house-owner to invite relatives or villagers or distant villagers to join in eating, drinking. Apart from worshiping the ancestors, Gods of land and rice, it’s an occasion to pray for good luck, good health and happiness.

As of the Êđê minority, when the crop is over, rice is brought home, the party is prepared. While the women take care of cooking, the men take charge of killing pigs, chickens or looking for a big tree for the ritual. Guests and relatives are invited. The girls pound the rice while the boys chopping wood, the old women look after skirts, blankets. If the house-owner is family chief, the relatives have to assist in offerings.
New rice ceremonyPhoto: Khắc Thiện

When everything is ready, the column is set up, vases of alcohol are tied to the ropes, gongs are hung high, stream-water is filled in cooking pots, picks and chickens killed, offerings placed in house-front. The magician, dressed in special costume, will put a bowl of alcohol, mixed with pig’s blood before the eldest woman whose one leg put on an axe. The gongs sound now in low then in high. The magician says his prayings to show gratitude then he sprays alcohol on gongs, staircases, the kitchen, everybody starts eating and drinking. The aged as well as the young are merrily eating. The eldest woman in the house is the first to be invited, then come the younger ones, the relatives and villagers. When guests go home, they are offered a packet of gift as if to be shared with good luck and blessings.

Later at night, an experienced old man is respected to tell Khan (the Êđê minority epic). Both the teller and listeners get deeply absorbed in heroic traditions of heroes like Đăm San, Đăm Di and the victories of the minority.

New-rice party is continued in family after family, day after day in the mountains and forests spring. They entertain themselves to the bottom of their hearts and get ready for the new crops with new hopes.

                                                                            KIM LIÊN
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