|The village gate worship ritual of the M'Nong
Their worship of the village gate prays for good weather, a bumper crop, and food sufficiency.
The M’Nong of Dac Nong province live in villages comprised of dozens of families. Behind the village gate, people live peacefully and promote a united neighborliness.
Phan Cong Viet, Deputy Director of Dak Nong province’s Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said, “The village gate plays an important role in their lives. People go through the gate to the fields. When they meet each other at the gate, they greet each other to express friendship and unity.”
The worship of the village gate is held at the beginning of the rainy season, which is usually in the 4th lunar month. The village chief calls a meeting of all villagers to inform them of the worship day and assign them to prepare offerings.
Nguyen Thi Nga, an official with Dak Nong province’s Culture Center, says the M’Nong select a price of charcoal from the kitchen, wrap a piece of white cloth around it, and consider it a communicator between humans and genies.
Ms. Nga talks about the offering: “Each family contributes a handful of rice and tobacco, a piece of charcoal, betel leaves, areca nuts, glutinous rice cakes, 3 green bananas, 2 boiled sweet potatoes, 3 pieces of sugar cane, a bottle of wine, and 4 candles placed on the 4 corners of a desk, and a rhino horn and a pair of elephant ivory all made of wood.”
The table of offerings is placed in front of the Neu tree, which is a tall bamboo pole erected near the village gate to ward off evil spirits. The people who carry the offering have to bend their backs as if they were growing rice or corn in the field. The gate worship ceremony must include wood statues or other images of rhinos, elephants, or tigers.
“The images of wild animals scare evil spirits and diseases and chase them away from the village,” Nga said.
Villagers wear their traditional costumes at the ceremony. Men wear loincloths and sleeveless tops. Women wear colorful blouses and long dresses.
Mr. K’Mang, the chief of N’rieng village, said, “We read prayers to call the genies of the mountain and spring. Then talk about village relationships and how to grow rice and raise chickens, ducks, and pigs. We should unite with each other and learn the good practices of other villages.”
The village chief blows a horn and the villagers responded to his call. A team of 6 people beat the gongs.
After the ritual at the gate, the village chief and the villagers bring wine to their houses to worship the spirits of the house, the kitchen, the gate, and the barn. They pray for their protection to fight against evil spirits.
During the worship of the village gate, the patriarch distributes health bracelets to villagers and guests to bless them with good health and happiness.