Ceremony of praying for rain of Ma people in Lam Dong
Aug 01st 2016.
In their cultivation method, the Ma can only cultivate a single crop in the rainy season, they do not use irrigation but rely on rainwater. So, the ceremony of praying for rain-a type of primitive agricultural beliefs, still exists in the Ma community today.
The ceremony of praying for rain Leh dan duh Mhiu” of the Ma occurs only when the sowing of grains in the field has been completed, but it is still dry, people pray for appropriate weather; protecting a bumper crop from being drought and villagers have a peaceful life. It is considered as a major celebration of the village and is co organized by the village chief (chau kuang bon), head of the clan (PO Nao) and heads of households (PO Hiu The Village Chief will preside over the ceremony. All the preparatory work is specifically assigned to each group of members in the village. The men do the Pole and other hard work. The women prepare firewood, water vegetables, rice, ethnic wine”can” to make offerings to gods and treat guests. The ritual of praying for rain begins with the invitation to Yang(God) at the village chief’s house, followed by the buffalo stabbing ceremony at the main ceremonial ground.
Ritual of inviting Yang (God) at the village chief’s house:
On the ceremonial day, from early morning families bring offerings of chicken, wine, rice, to the village chief’s house. The offerings to the divine Gods must include a sacrifice(usually a duck), for the Ma think that duck represents water world, along with a jar of ethnic wine”can”, a couple of dried gourd container to keep water and a bamboo tube containing different seeds (7 seeds for each type of grains). The Ritual takes place around the Pole tied to the jar of wine to invite Yang (in the middle of the stilt house).
After the preparation of the offerings has been completed, the master of ceremonies (MC) begins to conduct the ritual to invite divine spirits to attend the ceremony. He fills water into the wine jar to offer to yang and says the prayers: O, god of rain(yang Mhiu), god of water (Yang Da), god of rice (Yang Koi), Today we celebrate the ceremony of Praying for Rain. On behalf of the villagers, let me invite You to witness and receive our offerings While praying, the MC plucks a pinch of the duck’s feather and throws it to the fire so smoke will fly to heaven and reach the divine spirits. Then he slams the sacrificed animal’s head into the column near the Pole, so the blood of the sacrificed animal splashes out and he takes the blood to offer Gods. The blood of the sacrificed animal is mixed with sticky rice and turmeric, then applied to the Pole and the jar of wine offered to Yang. At this moment, gongs begin to be performed and people believe that when the divine spirits hear the sound, they will attend the ceremony.
The buffalo stabbing ritual at the ceremonial ground:
After the ritual of inviting Yang(god), people go to the ceremonial ground, where jars of delicious ethnic wine and a strong, healthy buffalo chosen to be the sacrifice are tied near tree Pole. When people have concentrated at the ground, around the Pole, the MC solemnly conducts the buffalo-stabbing ceremony, he has applies the sticky rice to the Pole and prays O Yang Mhiu(God of Rain) and gods from four directions Please come here to witness the killing of the sacrificed buffalo to offer to divine gods and please do not let the rice, the corn wither in the fields again; bring in the gentle rain, let the rice to
develop well and shed grains; the bamboo shoots, the vegetables growing in the forests come into buds, let the pouring rain come to fill the rivers, the streams, the villagers have water to drink, shrimp and fish to eat Along with the rhythm of gongs at this time, the prayers become ethereal, more sacred Afterwards, the MC thrusts the straws into the jar of wine and asks permission to perform the sacrifice ritual, then he gives the long-handled axe into the hand of a sturdy man selected before to stab the buffalo The sacrificed animals collapses in the loud cheers of the villagers. The blood of sacrificed animal is applied to the Pole and to all the members attending the ceremony to wish good luck. After that, the village chief is the first to drinkwine from the jar of wine offered to Yang, then the other important people and guests.
lf after the ceremony of praying for rain, and rains, they say that their faith was accepted. People will go to the streams to catch shrimp and fish, to the forest to pick vegetables and keep rainwater in containers. For the Ma consider it as”holy water given by divine gods, which they often call “Da Kon Noh”.
To conclude the ceremony, the buffalo head is hung on the Pole to offer divine gods, the buffalo thigh is split evenly for each family, the remaining part of the buffalo is carried away to make dishes for guests. At night, besides the the light of the bonfire and the jar of ethnic wine”can”, people continue to gather and drink and dance in the sounds of the gongs and the boisterous noise of the pan pipe in the hope that good things will come to the village.
By Doan Bich Ngo