The folk games of the Cham grew out of work and other daily activities, and reflect historical, cultural values. They have spread from generation to generation through public performances and competitions.
Chau Van Huynh, who has spent more than 10 years studying Cham culture, said, “The Cham have about 100 folk games. There are games for one or two players, games with prizes, games with sung proverbs, and games for festivals.”
Folk games help people relax after a day of hard work and give them more energy. Children love to play with simple materials such as stones, sticks, fruits, and plants.
Researcher Huynh said, “Games reflect life, work, and society. There are games to play in the fields. Children swimming in the river can play catching fish.”
Children play games to show their quick reaction and unity such as hawk catching chicks and capture the flag. Tug-of-war tests the combined strength of individuals. There are games with mysterious religious features such as stamping out a fire.
Games are divided into two groups: general games and religious games. Religious games are only played during rituals. Flying kites is a religious game associated with a story about family clans.
The story say that while ancestors were playing kites one day, a strong wind snatched the kites and people away. Children now fly kites at festivals to remember their ancestors and pray for good luck.
Huynh said, “Flying kites is part of a worship ceremony. They keep a kite near the altar. After the ritual, they fly a kite outside the village to pray for happiness and peace for the whole family.”
Weightlifting is a game for young men to show off their strength. It’s only played at community festivals, not anywhere outside the ceremony. Besides religious games, the Cham have games imitating handicrafts such as Bau Truc pottery and My Nghiep brocade weaving.