The ritual of worshipping new house spirit of Ma ethnic people
Dec 8th 2015.
In their spiritual life, Ma people have a lot of unique rituals, in which we can mention the”Feast on a new home,” known as the ritual of worshipping the House spirit (Yang Hiu). It is considered one o the unique and most important ritual of the Ma.
For the Ma, their longhouse is not only a residence of the clan members, but also a place where important rituals related to the spiritual life of the entire community take place. The Ma consider moving to a new house a very important event for their grand family. Therefore, when the construction of the longhouse is completed, the Ma are accustomed to the practice of celebrating the ritual of worshipping the House Spirit before moving into their new home. Despite short preparation, offerings are carefully prepared, all work assignments are allocated to each family member by the head of the family (po hiu).
Mandatory offerings in the ritual of worshipping the House Spirit include 1 rooster, 1 jar of can ethnic wine, a dried gourd to hold the blood of a scapegoat, 1 piece of ember, 1 dried gourd to hold water and some seeds When offerings are ready the rites are conducted, with the presence of all family members and relatives in the village. Those who attend the ritual often carry the most delicious can wine they have, along with dozens of small jars of wine from small families living in the same longhouse. All jars of wine are arranged from one end of the house to the other. Particularly, the jar of wine to offer to Yang(God) is always placed in the middle compartment near the tree to be offered to gods. The Master of Ceremonies must be the head of the family, the most prestigious person in their lineage.
According to the Ma’s customs, before conducting the ritual, the head of the family would be the first footer into the new home, he carries the embers taken from the old house together with the gourd holding water and some seeds. Then in turn, each family member brings the furniture to their new home The ceremony starts, with rites to invite Yang(God) to witness the family’s new home ritual and pray for divine protection. After offerings are laid out, the head of the family(po hiu) and the uncle(konh) of the highest generation of the clan will take the rooster(scapegoat) to the front of the altar together with the prayer: “Er… Sacred Yang Hiu(the House God)! Please allow us to move into our new home. Er… Yang(the God of the jar), Cinr(The God of the Gong), yare Uos (Fire God), Da(Water God) and other sacred Gods, please accept our offerings Please accept our prayers and bless us with a safe residence, a bumper crop, a good health, our sons and daughters will have many children. Please, God Soon after the prayers have stopped, the ritual to worshipping the Fire God (Yang Uos) is to ask for permission to kindle the stoves When the sacred fire in the main s has been lighted up, the flame will be in turn distributed to each family kitchen in the longhouse. And the families must keep constant fire in the kitchen the whole night. For the Ma believe the kitchen is not only a place to cook and receive visitors, but it is also the residence of the Fire God, who always brings luck to people Last of all, the Master of Ceremonies takes the blood of the scapegoat to smear the New Year tree, the jar of wine, the altar, the stove, and the row of gongs in the sacred space of the stilt house. Then, he smears everyday belongings of the family then the stairs of the entrance and around the house.
All participants also apply the blood of the scapegoat on their forehead to get good luck. The Ritual of smearing the blood of the scapegoat is seen as a message to supernatural forces for safety As the ceremony concluded, it is time for the gongs to be sounded with lyrics and joyful dances By the jars of wine and the flickering fire, people say best wishes to the owners for a safe and peaceful life in their new home. The atmosphere gets more and more joyful at late night, and the party lasts until the following morning.
By Thanh Binh