The new rice ritual of the Co Tu
VOV.VN - The new rice celebration is one of the most important rituals of the Co Tu ethnic minority to show their gratitude to heaven and earth for giving them good weather and bumper crops.
The Co Tu live by rice cultivation and other farm work. Because they live mainly in the mountains and forests, a difficult place for rice cultivation, they always pray for a warehouse full of rice and corn. After each harvest, they hold a ceremony to celebrate the end of a growing season and the beginning of a new crop.
“The 10th month of the lunar calendar is ripening rice time. Every village holds a new rice celebration some day during the month,” says Briu Po, the patriarch of Lang commune, Quang Nam province.
According to the patriarch, the Co Tu previously harvested just one rice crop a year. They were very excited after a year of hard work if they had a good harvest, so they performed a ritual, presenting offerings to the deities and praying the gods to bless them with good health, good weather and a bumper crop.
The new rice celebration includes a ritual and a festival. To prepare for the ritual, the Co Tu set up a Neu bamboo tree, which is believed to be able to drive away evils. Everyone, old and young, boys and girls, are busy preparing for the festival. The most special part of the occasion is the buffalo sacrifice ceremony. The buffalo, an important part of their daily life, is sacrificed on all important occasions.
People are assigned to prepare dishes for the offering tray. Men grill or steam fish, pork, and chicken, stuff bamboo tubes with rice, and fill vases with liquor. Women prepare spices for each dish, cook sticky rice, boil cassava, corn, and potatoes, make a soup, and fry vegetables. They have to prepare enough food to feed many people.
“The organization of the new rice celebration depends on the resources of each village and hamlet. A ceremony must include a buffalo, a cow, or a goat. A Neu tree is set up in the village yard. Prestigious village elders preside over the ceremony and on behalf of the villagers pray for heaven and earth to bless them with a bumper crop,” says Bh'ling Phat, head of Por'ning village, Lang commune.
After the ritual, people feast together to begin the festival. They dance tung tung da dá, a folk dance of the Co Tu, and sing joyous songs to welcome a new crop.
A new rice celebration draws all the villagers in a show of solidarity and community bonding. Patriarch Briu Po again explains, “People dance tung tung da dá and beat drums and gongs. Women wear their best clothes. The festival includes many folk games, such as hitting the bull’s eye of a spinning wheel, high jumping, and javelin-throwing.”
The new rice ceremony is a cultural tradition of the Co Tu that expresses their hope for a better life and connects people after a year of hard work.