Ministry recognises Cham festival

Kate Festival, the largest traditional festival of Vietnam’s Cham ethnic minority people, has been recognised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as an intangible cultural heritage.

ministry recognises cham festival hinh 0

The ministry made the announcement on October 19 at the Po Klong Garai Temple on the occasion of the Kate festival in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

The Kate festival is held annually for three days in the seventh lunar month, which fell on October 18-20 this year. The event is an opportunity for the Cham to show their gratitude to kings, mandarins and ancestors.

The Cham people call their kings and mandarins the Pokal, village genie the Po Play, and ancestors the Mu Kay.

The first day of the festival begins with a thanksgiving ceremony to the Po Play in villages.

On the second day, the Cham give offerings to the Pokal at ancient temples to pray for a peaceful and happy life. From the third day, they celebrate at home to honour their ancestors.

During the festival, people wear traditional clothes to join in rituals and cultural activities, folk dances, musical performances with traditional instruments, and folk games.

The Kate is the Cham’s most important festival. It has been known as one of the 15 largest festivals in the country, attracting thousands of locals as well as domestic and international visitors every year. 

The Cham people’s ancient pottery tradition, which survives in Bau Truc village in the central province of Ninh Thuan also received recognition as national intangible cultural heritage.

Speaking at the ceremony, held within the festival, vice chairman of Ninh Thuan province’s People’s Committee, Le Van Binh, said the recognition would honour the cultural values of the Cham.

Binh added that the title would bring more opportunities to promote provincial and local tourism.

To preserve the heritage, Binh called for the efforts of local people and organisations.

Director of Ninh Thuan province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Chau Thanh Hai said the unique feature of Bau Truc village pottery lies in its manual shaping without the use of a potter’s wheel. The Cham people use their hands to create soulful pottery products in diverse shapes and sizes, including traditional designs, such as Apsara statues, water jars and decorative lamps, vases and bas-reliefs.

The pottery is fired with straw or wood in the open air on bare land. This creates different shades on each piece, making them unique.

The heritage recognition is a first step for Ninh Thuan province in producing measures to preserve and promote local heritage and culture.

Bau Truc pottery village is one of the oldest ceramic villages in Southeast Asia. About 85% of the village’s 400 households make pottery.


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