|The new rice celebration of the Co Tu in Quang Nam province. (Photo: Police Department of Quang Nam province)
The Co Tu live by rice cultivation and other farm work. Because they live mainly in the mountains and forests, a difficult place for rice cultivation, they always pray for a warehouse full of rice and corn. After each harvest, they hold a ceremony to celebrate the end of a growing season and the beginning of a new crop.
Briu Po, the patriarch of Lang commune, Quang Nam province, said, "The 10th month of the lunar calendar is ripening rice time. Every village holds a new rice celebration some day in this month. Previously, the Co Tu harvested just one rice crop a year. They were very excited after a year of hard work if they had a good harvest, so they performed a ritual, presenting offerings to the deities and praying the gods to bless them with good weather and a bumper crop. The villagers also pray for good health.”
The new rice celebration includes a ritual and a festival. To prepare for the ritual, the Co Tu set up a Neu bamboo tree, which is believed to be able to drive away evils. Everyone, old and young, boys and girls, are busy preparing for the festival. The most special part of the occasion is the buffalo sacrifice ceremony. The buffalo, an important part of their daily life, is sacrificed on all important occasions.
People are assigned to prepare dishes for the offering tray. Men grill or steam fish, pork, and chicken, stuff bamboo tubes with rice, and fill vases with liquor. Women prepare spices for each dish, cook sticky rice, boil cassava, corn, and potatoes, make a soup, and fry vegetables. They have to prepare enough food to feed many people.
|People perform the Tung tung da da dance around the Neu tree. (Photo: Police Department of Quang Nam province)
Bh'ling Phat, Head of Por'ning village, Lang commune, said, “The organization of the new rice celebration depends on the resources of each village and hamlet. A ceremony must include a buffalo, a cow, or a goat. A Neu tree is set up in the village yard. Prestigious village elders preside over the ceremony and on behalf of the villagers pray for heaven and earth to bless them with a bumper crop.”
After the ritual, people feast together to begin the festival. They dance tung tung da dá, a folk dance of the Cơ Tu, and sing joyous songs to welcome a new crop.
A new rice celebration draws all the villagers in a show of solidarity and community bonding. Patriarch Briu Po said, "People dance tung tung da dá and beat drums and gongs. Women wear their best clothes. The festival includes many folk games, such as hitting the bull’s eye of a spinning wheel, high jumping, and javelin-throwing.”
The new rice ceremony is a cultural tradition of the Co Tu that expresses their hope for a better life and connects people after a year of hard work.