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15:10 | 17/11/2015

Recreate A Za Koonh festival (praying for harvest) of Ta Oi people 

(LVH) – This morning, on 17/11/2015, Ta Oi people from Thua Thien Hue recreated the A Za Koonh festival (praying for harvest) in Ta Oi Village, Ethnic Village Area II, Vietnam National Villages for Ethnic Culture and Tourism (Dong Mo, Son Tay, Hanoi). This is a traditional festival, expressing devotion and gratitude of the people to the gods and rice mother that has nurtured offspring from generation to generation and it is also joyful and bustle festival of the people after a cultivation season.

In the routine of Ta Oi people, after finishing a cultivation season, people are eager to prepare glutinous rice, the most delicious food and drink, the best outfits to organize a festival season called Ycha Aza, which is new rice festival, also known as praying for harvest. If villages gain great harvest, the people celebrate the festival in the lunar January, with killing buffalo rituals with great number of guests, numerous descendants in the village and village patriarches, heads of families, friends from the twinned villages attending this festival, people called A za Koonh or A za Pựt (large scale). If villagers gain small harvest, they will celebrate A za Kăn (small scale), normally in middle of lunar November, without killing buffalo rituals, amount of guests participating is little, mostly descendants of the family, and villagers.

 

Village patriarch implement A za koonh festival

There are two parts: rituals and festival, A za Koonh festival is held in Ron house (common house of family). Offerings include chicken, sugar cane wine, can wine, cake ... and all kinds of plant varieties and traditional brocade fabrics of the people.
In the ritual part, village patriarch and heads of families will do the rituals before official Aza worshiping. They are the rituals: cleansing (axa arah), covenant (ta nơm), inviting rice mother ritual (ka coong tro), preparation (father poked) reporting house god ritual (Dàng Đung).
The first one is cleansing ritual (axa rah). This is a very important ritual, which is indispensable in the festival. This ritual means as a miraculous current to wash away all sins and dirts caused by descendants, for a clean village so that Giang is please to attend the festival. The next one is covenant ritual (ta nơm), with the offering of 1 cup of can wine in order to promise 1 month later, they will celebrate A za festival for wishing that Giang will helps and support for a successful A Za festival. The third step is the inviting rice mother ritual (ka coong tro). This is the main part of A Za festival, inviting Rice mother to the main house for attending the festival with other plant varieties. People appreciate Rice Mother, so they wear the kinds of jewelry on her such as beads and agate beads. Then the village patriarch and heads of families held preparation (cha chọt), report Giang to know that descendants in the village will go to the forest, go down the stream to look for the great food for A Za festival, with the hope that Giang will bless the descendants with health and luck during preparation.
After completing the rituals above, village patriarch will perform reporting to Dàng Đung (house god) ritual to conduct official A Za ritual.
With 8 steps, the official A Za ritual starts with plant varieties worshiping (A Za worshiping). This is a thanksgiving ritual to rice mother and plant varieties such as corn, bananas, potatoes and maniocs... who gave great harvest and fed villagers so that they grow up and be healthy. Next, the village patriarch does Giàng Pa nuôn worshiping. This means they worship the gods protecting people in trade. This worshiping brings the meaning of gratitude and wish for a smooth and lucky trade year. The third step is Giàng Cợt worshiping, which is worshiping for gods managing people, with a full banquet tray to offer to Giàng Cợt the great foods. They show their gratitude towards Giàng Cợt for bestowing lives, health, longevity, and imploring Giàng Cợt for bestowing children, grandchildren and protection from illness and childlessness so that villages are happy. In the fourth step, village patriarch worship Giàng xứ, which means offering gods of river, stream, cloud, wind, mountain, fire, earth and road... The fifth step is worshiping Giàng Ku muuiq, which means worshiping the dead. The sixth step is worshiping Giàng A zel, which is worshiping the gods in heaven and on earth to give thanks and pray for blessing of health and prosperity for villagers in the next year. The seventh step is eating new rice festival (cha dooi ârbeh). Everyone in the family and village will eat new rice and banquet trays. This festival is only for descendents, families and village. After the new rice festival, the last step is the delivery of banquet tray. This ritual is performed by village patriarch that he will deliver prepared banquet tray to the guests invited to the festival. After delivery ritual, the guests are invited to eat, sing, dance together for celebration A Za festival.
After finishing ritual part, everyone goes back home to prepare to welcome guests. Village patriarch and heads of families will go to each family to inquire and congratuate. They sing and dance together in the dances of A za, Poon, Eo... They reply each other by fork song of Kâr lơợi, Taarr a, Cha chấp, Xiềng ... together with the warm rhythm of drums and gongs.

 

Festival part of A Za Koonh festival of Ta Oi people with crowded people,
tourists and some other ethnic communities attending and cheering

Within the week of “Great union between ethnic groups - Vietnam Cultural Heritage”, which is held in Vietnam National Villages for Ethnic Culture and Tourism, A Za Koonh festival brings people and tourists the unique and distinctive culture of the Ta Oi people, contributing to preservation, conservation and promotion of the unique cultural values in cultural current of Vietnam ethnic group in “Common house”.

Minh Huyen - Hai Yen

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