Festival of Cong people in Lai Chau

Saturday, 2017-01-28 14:32:59
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The offering ritual during the Tet holiday of Cong ethnic minority people (Credit: VNA)
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NDO—The Cong ethnic minority in Lai Chau consists of only around 1,500 people who mainly live in several villages in Nam Khao and Nam Cha Communes in Muong Te and Nam Nhun Districts, respectively. The Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival to mark the end of an annual harvest is the biggest and most important festival in the year for the Cong.

According to Ly Van La, an old person who has experience in leading rituals on the occasion of Tet, the Cong people in Tang Nga Hamlet, Nam Cha Commune consider the festival the most important of the year because it marks one year of production. This is an opportunity for people to gather together and report to their ancestors and gods on the recent harvest, as well as to pray for a new year of good weather.

The Tet festival of the Cong starts between the middle of the tenth month of the lunar calendar to the beginning of the eleventh month. Families in the villages choose any day within this period to hold the event; however the chosen days do not fall on the birthdays of the heads of households, nor on the death anniversaries of their ancestors and parents.

In the past, Tet lasted for several days; however currently, the festival takes place in only two days and nights with the traditional rituals as well as cultural and arts activities and banquets.

The offerings during the Tet holiday are mainly agricultural and native products that the local people plant and breed, such as pigs, chickens, squash, okra, sticky rice and wine. Notably, the Min Loong (“cockscomb”) is a compelling kind of flower offered to ancestors for Tet. For the Cong, cockscomb is considered a sacred kind of flower that the gods have bestowed on them. It is believed to protect other plants from infestation by insects, birds, mouses, chipmunks and wild animals.

On the first day of the Tet holiday, all members of families get up very early to go to the springs for bathing, sweeping away the “unfortunate things” in the past year. Each person brings a little water to pour into a common jar with a desire of welcoming the luckiness.

Then, they prepare a tray of rice and food to offer to the ancestor; and all members gather to enjoy the family meal. Especially, after the rituals, the wealthier households often invite all people in the hamlet to enjoy a community meal.

Finally, people together sing, dance and drink ruou can (“tube wine”). While dancing and singing, the women in the families throw rice to guests, showing their prosperity. The Tet festival takes place in the jubilant atmosphere of the sound of gongs and drums around the village.

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