The O Du in Văng Môn hamlet said their ancestors used natural phenomenon to mark the time. A New Year begins when they hear the first thunder and ends after the last thunder. Mac Thi Tim, an O Du woman in Văng Môn hamlet, said: “The O Du ancestors lived in the forest and on mountains. They did not have calendars, radios, or newspapers. They depended on thunder. When they heard thunder in the morning, they celebrated a New Year.”
|O Du women prepare offering for a Thunder celebration.
The thunder ceremony is one of the oldest customs of the O Du. They beat the gongs to gather all villagers for a New Year celebration. They prepare buffaloes and pigs to worship deities and pray for happiness.
During the day of the first thunder, they organize ceremonies to accredit dignitaries and shaman in the village, change names for adult men to mark their maturity, and name new-born babies.
The O Du depend on the thunder from when they are born until they die. Thunder salvages the souls of the dead, they said.
A widow or a widower, who wants to re-marry, waits for the first thunder to organize a ritual to ask the deceased for permission.
|A shaman hosts the Thunder celebration.
During the thunder ceremony, a shaman, on behalf of the villagers, prays to deities and ancestors to bless them with favorable weather, good crops, health, and peace.
Tim said: “Hearing the first thunder, the villagers prepare chicken, pigs, squirrels, and rats to offer the ancestors and the Thunder God. We also offer wine and other dishes to deities and pray for good luck in the New Year.”
Lò Văn Cương, an O Du man in VăngMôn hamlet, said families prepare food and invite their neighbors for a meal to celebrate the New Year. The offerings are placed on rattan trays. A shaman hosts the rituals at the witness of the villagers.
Cuong said: “Depending on family’s conditions, they prepare pigs, roosters, squirrels, rats, fish, wine, sticky rice cakes, and steamed rice stuffed in bamboo tubes. We arrange the food in two trays.”
Families keep the rooster’s legs and give them to a shaman who uses them to tell the family’s future. The O Du say the rooster is the first animal that crows after the first thunder. It conveys messages from the Thunder God to the people.
After worshipping, all villagers eat the food together and dance to the festive sounds of gongs, drums, and bamboo musical instruments. The First Thunder Festival often lasts 5 to 7 days.