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Ceremony of blowing air on baby’s ear – first rites in the lifespan of the Ba Na people

Blowing air on baby’s ear (Thoi Tai) is a ritual ceremony for babies under 24 months, praying the gods to protect and teach people’s children to grow up. This is the first rites in the lifespan and the important ceremony of Ba Na ethnic minority people in Central Highland of Viet Nam.

Ritual is the way to communicate with gods

Ba Na (Bahnar) ethnic people (To Tung, K’bang, Kon Tum) have the concept of all things are gods and praying is a common way for people to communicate with gods. In certain stages of the life, human will be affected by different gods. Kids are always surrounded by many gods. If they want children to be healthy, they have to perform ritual ceremonies praying to gods from the moment the baby is born to adulthood. To carry out ceremonies, family members and the shaman make the Neu tree. This is the typical pole of the ethnic people are made of bamboo tree, carving flowers, drawing pattern by chicken blood.

first rites in the lifespan of the Ba Na people
first rites in the lifespan of the Ba Na people

The gifts must be prepared for the gods

the gifts have been prepared for the gods
the gifts have been prepared for the gods

Depending on the circumstances that the host prepared the gift, however, there is no shortage of Neu tree, bamboo basket, gourds, knives, bamboo musical instrument, cotton, bronze bowls, thread rolls, chicken (hen for girl and rooster for boy). After chicken is killed, people choose a few pieces such as liver, meat, heart, blood…  and put them into small baskets, lined with clean leaves, wine is poured into the bowl to perform the ceremony.

this ritual for the blessing
this ritual for the blessing

Blowing air on baby’s ear (Thoi Tai) is an important ceremony

Babies are born after 3 months to 24 months of age will have to perform Thoi Tai (blowing air on baby’s ear) ceremony. In addition to praying for the baby’s healthy, Ba Na people celebrate this ritual for the blessing, name the baby and give thanks to the gods.

The shaman performs ceremonies at the front yard to invite the gods visit family
The shaman performs ceremonies at the front yard to invite the gods visit family

When the midwife and the shaman are present, the family takes the baby to sit before the gifts and the shaman pray to gods. The parents sit on the east side of the offering, while the shaman sits on the west side.

the family takes the baby to sit before the gifts
the family takes the baby to sit before the gifts

The midwife and the shaman bless and pray for good luck; ask the guardian god to protect the child. People do not forget to call “yang” (god), ancestors, grandparents; east god, west god, jungle god, stream god; birth god, protection of human beings…. When worshiping, people bring newborn baby, hug it, pat its chest and back, and blow symbolically air on the baby’s ear.

blow symbolically air on the baby's ear
blow symbolically air on the baby’s ear

When finished, the shaman rubbed lightly on the head, chest, back, hands and feet of the baby and blow symbolically air on the baby’s ear, put thread to the baby’s earlobe.

put thread to the baby's earlobe
put thread to the baby’s earlobe

Rituals bring good luck to the baby

After completing the ritual, the shaman invites the midwife and the parents of the baby drink can wine to give thanks. With Thoi Tai (blowing air on baby’s ear) Ceremony, the Ba Na people believe that the baby will always be healthy, wise, alert, and become a good person.

the Ba Na people believe that the baby will always be healthy with this ceremony
the Ba Na people believe that the baby will always be healthy with this ceremony

People often do rituals in the stilt house. After worship Yang (gods), relatives drinking can wine and playing, singing, mixing traditional musical instruments… to congratulate the baby at the festival grounds.

After worship Yang
After worship Yang
Ceremony of blowing air on baby’s ear – first rites in the lifespan of the Ba Na people
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