Khanh Vinh District People’s Committee recently organized a festival demonstrating new-rice celebration, a unique cultural form of Raglai people.
A beauty of Raglai people’s culture
New-rice celebration is a unique cultural beauty of Raglai people. Through the preservation of this tradition, other cultural characteristics of the Raglai such as music will also be preserved. Raglai people believe that there are many gods in the natural world and that “Giang” is the soul of rice with the power to impact production and people's lives. Raglai people regard new-rice celebration as their New Year (Tet) holidays. During these days, Raglai people perform rituals to welcome “Giang” to their houses to celebrate Tet with their families and pray for a year of good health and good harvests. This activity also serves as an occasion for Raglai people to express their gratitude to other people in the village who helped their families in producing and harvesting crops.
|Raglai people preparing for the rituals of new-rice celebration|
In order to prepare for the new-rice celebration, Raglai people decorate Neu tree beautifully because they believe that Neu tree is the house of rice God. The offerings to the God include newly harvested rice, chicken, pork, unhusked rice, corn, betel and areca, “can” wine (wine drunk out of jars through pipes), etc. The celebration comprises of rituals performed by shamans and festive activities. In the festive part, Raglai people perform their traditional music with traditional dances and instruments; drink “can” wine; play traditional games such as stick pushing and walking on stilts. Everyone in the celebration enjoys the joyful atmosphere and celebrates the well-being and happiness of the host family.
|Raglai People dance and play music after performing rituals|
Potential tourism product
The restoration of new-rice celebration of Raglai ethnic group is a part of the project "Preserving and promoting good traditional cultural values of ethnic minorities in association with tourism development" under the national target program for socio-economic development of ethnic groups and mountainous areas in 2021-2025 period in Khanh Vinh District. As said by folk cultural researcher Ngo Van Ban, the fact that Khanh Vinh District restores new-rice celebration, a traditional custom and cultural activity of Raglai people, is essential and meaningful. This not only contributes to the preservation of cultural values of Raglai people but also helps local people and tourists learn about this unique cultural characteristic.
|New-rice celebration helps to connect people in the village|
Reportedly, in the past, new-rice celebration was a big celebration of every Raglai family. This custom has gradually fallen into oblivion. The restoration of this cultural activity aims to preserve and promote good values in the cultural and spiritual life of Raglai people and also to make this a tourism product, which can attract tourists to the local customs and culture.
Khanh Vinh District has made many efforts to preserve the traditional cultural values of Raglai people with many activities to promote traditional music and musical instruments (ma la, chapi, lithophone, etc.). The district has collected and researched the Raglai’s folk culture and music; restored local customs and traditions through festivals; opened classes on traditional musical instruments for young generation. Besides, the district has implemented the policy of promoting the development of mountain and forest ecotourism and invited investment in tourism from businesses and investors. Therefore, preserving new-rice celebration can help to make this custom of the Raglai a culture-tourism product in the future.
Giang Dinh – Vinh Thanh
Translated by H.N