Worshipping of Churu People and the legendary Maxara temple

Sept 21st 2015.

Unlike other ethnic groups in the south central highlands,  Churu ethnic minority people practise kinship worshipping.  This is one of the cultural characteristics of the Churu in Lam Dong.

Currently,  in KhamJrong hamlet,  Ta Nang village,  Duc Trong district,  Lam Dong province there exist two ancient temples named Maxara (Maxara l and Maxara ll).  These are Chu Ru’s famous ancient kin ship worshipping temples that remained in Lam Dong until now.

According to Churu ethnic minority people,  these temples had existed for a very long time and had been relocated by the custom and nomadic life of the Churu.  They had existed long before Sop and Karyo temples (two temples keeping the treasure of the Cham people),  i.e.,  about 300-400 years from now.

Overview of Maxara temple

Overview of Maxara temple

Maxaral and Maxara ll temples worship God Choc Long (The high mountain god of Maxara).  The god’s name is Pa Ka Rah.  He is the guardian deity of the Churu,  and is instrumental in preserving and protecting the land,  the forests and mountains and teaches Chu Ru people to grow rice,  corn,  do work,  and make crossbows for hunting wild animals Legend has it that in the old times,  Chu Rupeople had always been plundered,  harassed by the Col(a certain ethnic minority tribe?)  therefore they had led a very miserable life.  Deity Pa Ka Rah had used his talent,  his strength and power to lead Churu people to expel the invaders,  regained the ancestral land and forests and mountains.  After chasing the enemy,  he taught people how to make irrigation,  cultivate in low-  lying fields to gain more crops.  As he had the gift of prophecy,  and understood the language of animals,  he performed miracle to catch buffaloes,  bison and built large wooden frames on their backs transporting furniture,  grains and rice and had them the plow for the Chu Ru.  He picked the leaves of the trees to turn them into money to help needy people.  Pa Ka Rah Churu also taught people to make crossbows,  snares and hunt beasts where there After helping people to were the most wild animals chase the enemy,  and taught people to earn their living and have life,  Deity Pa incarnated into a bird and flew towards the Maxara high mountains.

Jaba shaman is doing ritual worship at the Maxara temple

Jaba shaman is doing ritual worship at the Maxara temple

But one day,  the Col people returned and continued their invasion,  seized Chu Ru’s land and forced the people to work as servants for them Knowing that the villagers were distressed,  miserable and groaning under the yoke of the invaders,  Deity Pa Ka Rah came back reincarnated as son of his own daughter,  i e.,  Phuc Ma(female)  and his son-in-law,  i.e.,  A.  B) (male).  After being born a second time,  he told people who he was and for the sake of the villagers,  he had to be reincarnated as son of his daughter.  And little Pa Ka Rah grew up very quickly,  very soon he became a brave young man,  he had invented a magic crossbow that could fire seven arrows at a time to kill seven invaders..  Additionally,  Pa Ka Rah could talk to animals,  induced them into forming an army to help him fight the enemy.  The Col were chased and ran away through Daklak,  then drifted through Laos and Cambodia.  Since then,  they did not dare to return to the lands of the Churu.  Invaders chased back,  he turned to the people to rebuild the villages and the Maxara Choc Long temple,  or his grandfather(his previous incarnation).  At the same time he directly looked after the temple until his death.

Maxara I and Maxara ll were built in rather simple architecture,  made of bamboo,  wood and thatch.  Inside sat a wooden stand to lay worshipping items and the altar.  Through war and time,  many precious worshipping objects had been lost or damaged.  Currently only a few bronze artifacts and blue pottery objects remain.  Particularly in Maxara l there is still a small coffin containing the remains of Verenable Monk Kay Po Hao who had the most contribution to worship Chu Ru gods of Churu(Pa Ka Rah).  Maxara l and Maxara ll temples organized rituals once a year on the 15th day of the 1″  month of the lunar calendar.  On these days,  Chu Ru ethnic minority people gather to the temples to commemorate the merit of their god deity;  in the meantime,  they pray their god for good health,  bumper crops,  obtain more cattle,  wealth and during the fight people could avoid s bullets flying about…

Ancestor worshipping,  kinship worshipping is a fine cultural tradition of the people of Vietnam in general and Chu Ru people in particular.  Especially,  ancient temples like Maxara temples are very rare and a few exist in Lam Dong.  Therefore,  the local authorities should create good conditions for ethnic tribes and villages to repair,  restore and protect the above-mentioned temples in order to contribute to preserving national cultural identity.

By Doan Bich Ngo

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