Harvest Festival – 2010

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Category: Festivals
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“Welcome the New Rice” Festival by Co Tu ethnic people

In July of the lunar calendar, when the rice is golden and fully grown, Co Tu ethnic people in the western part of Quang Nam Province (Central Vietnam) hold a festival to welcome the new rice.

The festival takes place during the harvest of the new rice and is reserved to pay homage to Giang (Heaven) and the spirits, which protect the villagers and bless them with a bumper harvest, clement weather and a peaceful life.

In July of the lunar calendar, when the rice is golden and fully grown, Co Tu ethnic people in the western part of Quang Nam Province (Central Vietnam) hold a festival to welcome the new rice. The festival takes place during the harvest of the new rice and is reserved to pay homage to Giang (Heaven) and the spirits, which protect the villagers and bless them with a bumper harvest, clement weather and a peaceful life.

“Welcome the New Rice” Festival is an opportunity for the villagers to meet and exchange news with one another. On the festive days, the entire village is crowded and bustling. Old musicians ensure their instruments are in good working order while young people clean the houses, repair roads and decorate the Guol (communal house) to welcome guests. Credited people are entrusted to invite guests from the nearby villages. Working tools are placed in the Guol to report to Giang and the spirits the results of the production activities over the recent harvest. Women are busy preparing their best traditional clothes and baskets to go to the fields in the early morning to collect the ripened rice. All villagers are eager to contribute to make the festival a success.

During the festival the villagers hold a buffalo-stabbing ritual to worship Giang and the spirits. When the buffalo is dead, an elder cuts a piece of its tail, and together with a chicken soaked with buffalo blood, he throws them to a nest placed on the top of a Neu pole (often made of bamboo). If they land in the nest, it means that Giang and the spirits have accepted the offerings. The colourful pieces of cloth covering the buffalo are intended to give it wealth, and sticky rice and wine poured into its mouth means to feed it well. Gongs and drums are beaten to say farewell to its soul as it heads to the heavens.

After the rituals are finished, the festive entertainment begins. The buffalo meat is divided into pieces, part of which is for the elderly to feast the guests at the Guol, and the rest is for the villagers. Wine, steamed sticky rice, pork, chicken and fruit are for all villagers to enjoy while chatting and exchanging news of production. Artistic performances, including folk songs and traditional Tung tung za za dance, all cheer up the villagers and make the atmosphere more jubilant. The entire village join in to celebrate a bumper harvest.

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