The Cham ethnic followers of Brahmin in the central province of Ninh Thuan are gearing up for the annual Kate festival, an occasion for them to pay respect to gods, ancestors, national heroes and kings.
This is the largest festival in the year of the Cham ethnic community in Ninh Thuan, which takes place in the seventh month of the Cham people’s calendar.
Falling on October 23-25 this year, the festival will feature an array of traditional music and sport performances at temples and towers.
Local brocade weavers and pottery artisans as well as amateur singers and dancers are honing their skills to join competitions at their communes during the event.
Festival activities are held in three tower temples in Ninh Thuan province at the same time and on the same day. The rituals are similar in content.
It includes a ceremony to receive Goddess Po Nagar’s costumes in Huu Duc hamlet, Phuoc Huu commune, Ninh Phuoc district.
Goddess Po Nagar is said to be the ancestor of the Cham people who taught them how to grow rice and cotton, weave clothing and carry out cultural activities in their daily lives.
All the royal costumes at Cham tower temples are kept by the Raglai people. Therefore, at the Kate festival, the Cham people have to perform a ceremony to welcome the Ragrai people who bring the costumes to the Cham tower temples.
Offerings to Goddess Po Nagar include betel and areca, eggs, chicken, fruits and Tet cake.
The festival is also an occasion where the participants can enjoy unique folk singing, dancing and music. They can dance with Cham people and relax with Gi nang drumming and Saranai trumpeting.
Apart from festive activities in the community, the Cham people also celebrate the festival in their families.
In the past, the festival usually lasted for one month in their families but today, it is shortened to three days.
On the first day, family members gather to prepare traditional cakes and offerings.
On the second day, they join rituals at pagodas.
On the third day, they conduct worship to implore ancestors and deities to support them in life.
On this occasion, each family prepares cakes and fruits to invite relatives and friends to visit and congratulate each other.
There are about 153,000 Cham people in Viet Nam, including approximately 72,500 people in Ninh Thuan. Over 43,000 of them, scattered across 12 communes in seven districts, follow the Brahmin religion.