|The Cor celebrate “Ngã rạ” festival. (VOV)
The Cor live in mountain districts of Quang Ngai and Quang Nam province. When every family has finished harvesting their terraced rice in the 11th lunar month, they gather to prepare a celebration called “Ngã rạ” to thank deities and ancestors for blessing them with a good year and a bumper crop.
Women grind rice to make cakes while men weave bamboo trays on which to arrange offerings. They sing folk songs while they work.
Ho Thi Lan, of Gia Giang commune, said: “After working in the field, we ate dinner earlier than usual and came here to make cakes together. All the villagers are preparing for the “Ngã rạ” celebration tomorrow.”
Early the next morning, families organize a ceremony for the Goddesses followed by a ceremony for the Gods. The offerings include liquor, betel leaves, areca nuts, and live birds, pigs, and chickens. After the ceremony the animals are cooked for an ancester worship feast.
Family members eat some of the food for luck before inviting relatives and neighbors to take part in the meal.
|A typical “Ngã rạ” meal (VOV)
In the evening they gather at the village chief’s house for a Ga-ru ghost worship. The village chief asks the deities to bless them with good luck and a bumper crop. The villagers bring cakes, fruits, and chicken legs which the village chief uses to tell their fortunes.
Ho Van Bien said that after all the rituals, they visit each other’s house to wish each other happiness. “After a crop, people relax and celebrate the “Ngã rạ” festival. It’s a tradition of the Cor to pray for peace and prosperity.”
All the villagers enjoy the festive atmosphere. They dance around a Neu pole erected in the center of the village yard. The Neu pole is a tall bamboo tree decorated with red paper, which they believe will drive away evil spirits.
Young men show off their strength in folk games such as pushing sticks, shooting crossbows, and martial arts.
On the last day of the festival, the villagers go to the field to mimic ploughing the fields and sowing seeds for a new crop.
Cao Van Chu, deputy Director of the Quang Ngai provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said: “Some festivals and rituals have changed. We are concerned about preserving the soul of their traditions. We plan to build a traditional Cor house, which will be a cultural space in which to revitalize their worship rituals. No traditional Cor house has been built in the last 40 years. Such a house will put them in touch with their culture and their roots.”