Habits and customs are important factors creating the specific cultural aspect of each ethnic and local. Therefore, when mentioning the manners and customs of ethnics in Lam Dong, firstly we should mention the manners and customs of the indigenous ethnic minorities, then the Vietnamese even they have only settled in Lam Dong from early twentieth century but the population is the largest in Lam Dong at the present.
I. Marriage, Family and Funeral
Co Ho ethnic group
The Co Ho’s customs of monogamous marriage and living in the wife’s house was established long ago. Co Ho women play the key role in marriage. When coming of age (approximately 15-16 years old) and falling in love with someone, the girl will say with her parents, uncle and ask the match-maker to her groom’s side for pre-engagement ceremony. The offering will be: a hura-crepitan (vong dong) and a beaded string (represent for long-term link). If groom’s side receives these things, the two sides will continue setting the date for marriage. And the groom’s side will also require the dowry (exact wedding presents) usually buffalo, gong, jar, blank, clothing, pork, chicken...
On wedding day, the girl carrying a firewood papoose will be led by her parents, uncle and match-maker to the bridegroom’s house. The groom’s mother will take her to determined place for putting the firewood papoose. The bridegroom part prepares ruou can (wine drunk out of a jar through pipes) and food to invite the sorcerer and village patriarch to pray to Gods (Yang) for more rice, health, children, and lifelong happiness of the couple. Then, the match-maker hands over to the bride and bridegroom for ruou can drinking. The party begins, everyone strikes the gong, plays the horn, dances, sings and drinks ruou can all night long. The bridegroom will take his bride to their room and stay for one night without having sex.
The party will continue from 4 to 5 days. After the party, guests leaving, their parents will meet to agree the date and time of meeting the groom and bring his home (depending on the preparation of the bride).
Before meeting the groom and bring him home the two families will worship the Yang. It is time the groom’s side sets the dowry for him including gongs, jar, buffalo, cow and some other personal belongings. But the groom will refuse to honor his parents. So when going to his wife’ home, he just brings clothes, a sword, two cups, a bowl, a pair of chopsticks and a copper tray.
On the day of bring him home, the groom and members of his family, matchmaker and his friends will go to the bride’s. The bride’s side will arrange to pick up the groom’s side. After this ceremony, the couples officially enter their married life.
In marital relations of the Co Ho, there are many strict regulations such as: the marriage between cousins-german, maternal cousins (otherwise the bride, cousin-german in two-way relationship can get married). If the wife is dead, the husband can get married with her sister in case she agrees. If the couple divorce, the groom’s side has to return the offerings (can be reduced according to the years of his staying in his wife’s house) or if the wife is dead, her husband get married another, he must also return that offerings.
If the husband or wife is detected cheating on their partner, he/she must submit six buffalos, a wine of alcohol, a chicken, a duck for reconciliation ceremony. If the husband (or wife) is dead, the wife’s (or husband’s) part has no brother/sister for getting married (or they do not like each other), he/she is allowed to get married after coming out of the morning without dowry return and his/her children bringing. A wedding will be taken place. The discord or jealousy in love of the couple should be reconciled with a jar of alcohol, a chicken and a honor silver coil.
The sexual relations before marriage in the Co Ho society is not high appreciated but not affected the happiness of marriage. But the couple must marry when they have children. If refusing the marriage, the man has to compensate the girl’s family for two buffalos, a jar of alcohol, a goat, a duck and a hen. The number of compensation can be changed, added or removed, with the agreement of both sides, in which the decision of the uncle will be decisive factor.
In the past, the marriage of the Coho had to perform three times. So, in some cases, despite living together for long but their final wedding has not completed before their dead because of poverty.
So far, Coho's marriage is based on the voluntary consent of the couple. The parents never forced the marriage of their children. After marriage, the husband will stay in his wife's family. For the family have only a son, they still can get married for their son (if the bride agrees), but their children will bring the mother’s surname. In case the husband’s parents do not have daughter, the wife can stay in her husband’s family.
Adultery in the Co Ho society is considered a hard punishable felony. The divorce is rare in the Co Ho society. Divorces rarely happen in the Co Ho and they should be punished and accepted by the village leader.
There are polygamous cases in the Co Ho society in rich families such as village leader. However, the taking of additional wives must be accepted by his first wife and the concubine wife should donate many gifts to the first.
Previously, a family of the Co Ho included many couples living together in a long house (hiu rot). So researchers called the group in long family a extended family comprising many small families (sub-families). Afterwards, the sub-families living in two or three different houses, side by side in the same campus.
In a extended family, the staying is together but separate, individual meals, works. Some cases are common work, staying but separate meals. The extended family has many members from 3 to 4 generations, including children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Wealth in the family such as buffalo, pigs, chickens, gongs, jars, ... and even land under common ownership of the family members.
Head of the family is po inn; usually is the husband of the woman of the largest generation in the family. The uncle (kim pang) in a extended family will control all economic activities, beliefs, funerals, weddings, on behalf of his family in relationships with other families.
Arable land of large families and small families are often adjacent each other, convenient for helping the protection from the destruction of wild animals during the harvest. Extended family and small families cluster in a Bon under the administration of Quang bon (village patriarch). Today, in many bon, the village patriarch is also the village chief.
If the small family wants to transfer land or property, it must be reasonable and agreed by the uncle (kim pang). The wealth (mainly food) is separate from each small families; each family has a small separate container (a stilts house near living house). The production tools such as: plows, hoes, axes ... utensils such as clothing, jewelry ... are private ownership. Each family has a small own kitchen and living around the kitchen area.
Children in the Co Ho family will bear their mother’s surname. The daughter is inherited the family’s property. Power in the family mostly belongs to the women. However, even in the family or society, the role of men is not focused, especially in production, when the dispossession economic life is moving gradually to production in association with labor division. Children are cared for and loved by their parents but in old conception daughter is prefer than son.
Today, the extended family along with matriarchy of the Co Ho is being broken. Small families gradually separate independently with extended family. In the stable economical areas, the areas adjacent with towns, townships, towns, coastal highway 20, 11, 27, the disintegration of large families, the emergence of small families is being popular.
When a relative is died of old age or illness, they will break a jar, then strike the gongs, drum to inform people in the community. Next, the member of the family will clean and dress for the deceased. The dead body will be shrouded in a Oi Cham sheet (Oi Prum), oi Ma (oi drai, oi lang), oi Tola (oi o, oi yoal). Oi quantity will be depended on the circumstances of each family, which is a form of division to the dead. Along with the Oi sheets, necklaces, bracelets and all things are considered assets of that person in life, such as gongs, jar.... The custom of property division for the dead is common to the Co Ho group and many ethnic groups in Tay Nguyen. As for the ethnic Chil, when getting married, they give each other a sheet made of sedge with red and white colors in about 60 - 70cm large, 160 - 170cm long. This sheet will be retained and used for shrouded when being dead.
The large trees will be chosen, usually coral plant, kapok plants ... to cut in drug-out canoe with two parts facing each other. After shrouding, the body will be put in the coffin and covered. The shrouding quickly or slowly depends on the preparation of each family.
When the dead body was put in the coffin, the family will make the rolo rest day, in fact prepare sticky rice, firewood and chang res (poles to carry the coffin). Pigs, chickens can be prepared to stand relatives assisting the funeral (depending on the family conditions). In particular, if the dead is the uncle of the family, they must kill buffalo, cows, chickens, pigs and ducks. This ritual is mandatory, so the funeral is the great work of both families, although the late wife had long belonged to the wife.
After rolo day will be ran day (gathering). The people in the bon to condole will carry a thing to contribute in worship the family in mourning. Livestock and poultry can be killed to sacrifice as the official ceremonies. The digging will be started at the same time. Before the killing, some rituals should be taken before the coffin, such: pour a ruou can cup on the head of coffin, then the food stuff such as pigs, chickens, a little for each (liver, intestine, heart, legs, wings, ...) will be put on the coffin, the remaining meat is cooked to treat everyone.
By noon or afternoon, kle Yang koi ceremony will be conducted to call rice gods, one of the gods close with the dead in next time, pray the dead help the family the good seeds and prosperity. Beside the coffin, a sedge mat with size 60 x 150cm made by them will be placed; the mat bought in the market won’t be used. Relatives of the deceased (male or female) will hold oi sromo sheet to pray, invite until around the turn, the kle Yang koi ceremony is ended. Then the oi sromo sheet is rolled back so that the head sheet will in the same direction with the dead head. Everyone present will participate the funeral feast.
After the ran day will be top day (burring). In the morning of top day, they will remove the plank or bamboo wattle on the opposite wall to the coffin, to carry all the items of the deceased and shared properties out of the house in endless gongs sound, and mobile the coffin. Again they pray as kle Yang koi ceremony in ran day, then the bereaved invites each of them a ruou can cup to see of the deceased. Then the coffin will be placed on chang res. If the deceased is the husband, his family will take additionally they was so that his spirit staying in his wife’s house to visit his family the last time before leaving permanently. His family members will also in turn to see off their relative.
At the grave, the rolo te ro nan (stay in small tents) ceremony will be conducted. Each size of ro nan is 40cm in very simple way, representing the house where the deceased will "continue to live a new life and residents." They lay the mats, offer rice, then offer bamboo rods (gai djoh: bad plant). Then they throw a 2m long and sharp tree into a short holed tree while asking the sudden death reason of the decedent. Everyone takes turns asking the decedent and throwing the tree. Then the mother or wife or children of the decedent carries out the ritual of dry gourd breaking after strike it seven times to the coffin. When the gourd is broken, the decease life will be started and finished ceremony.
The Sre's grave in the recent period is still the common grave as the Co Ho group. After funeral, everyone backs to the bereaved house to wash their hands by ruou can mixed with chicken blood to purge evil spirits or the dead souls still followed them.
The sixth day since the dead is the appointment of the living and the dead. The relative visit the grave and bring rice, water, clothing, seeds, a banana stump, a sugar-cane stump for plantation next to ro nan house before visiting the grave. After visiting, they should wash their hands with the prepared ruou can mixed with chickens blood kept in dry bulb. Since then, during the period from 1 to 3 months, there is dan ceremony (offer rice for the dead). Dan place will be a deserted place outside village, bon. During offering rice, the relatives may cry or not.
It’s believed that, if the husband dies, during from 1 to 3 years of the decedent, the wife must be fail full with the dead. If offense, the grave will be collapsed, the dead will warn his relative in a dream for checking. If the grave is collapsed and his wife pleads her guilty, then the husband’s side has the right to punish by serving chicken, pork or buffalo, depending on the collapsed level of the grave. The wife prays her husband to forgive and asks him for remarried permission, then butchers. After that, she is allowed to get married another husband.
Above methodical and complex funeral rites are the general rites. There are some differences about the details, names, numbers, gifts, ceremonies of worship between groups. But these rituals are only applied to regular dead, good dead (chot Niam), not to bad deaths, deaths from accidents, sudden death. The bad dead will not be allowed to bring to home or bon. If violated, the family will be fined buffalo, beef, pork, chicken; alcohol ... celebrated worship and buried the ill-fated outside bon and village, and the residence time from one to two nights before burial. It’s believed that the bad dead is coached by Yang Vnriang and should be celebrated to raise the bad dead spirit back to bon with the normal dead spirit. With this death, family and community will refrain very carefully; sometimes up to three months for prevent the bad spread to the other.
Today, the funeral practices of the Co Ho have been changed a lot from coffin preparing, ro nan house making, burial, refraining, ... in more intelligent and progressive ways. Throughout history, residents were conceived the coffin of the deceased should be prepared carefully by using large trees, trees carved by normal tools, not carpentry tools, so it will take a couple of days. Because of coffin and other works preparation, the funerals will last days, not hygienic, affect to family health and community. These practices exist only in remote areas, remote or difficult, poor families. People can self- make the coffin with planks by using tools such as: saws, hammers, nails or purchase the coffin in stores like the Viet. This will shorten the funeral and the process of preparation is not hard.
However, the making ro nan house still exists because several Co Ho teems considers the life will be continued after the death. Most residents do not fence and decorate the graves with statue trees, so there are not sepulcher statue in Lam Dong as the E De, Ba Na, Gia Rai. The burial direction is not very important; mainly avoid wet, flooded areas. The graves are usually located on the mountainside, high mound.
The refrain is being reduced. Today, the bad dead is also brought home and taken buried normally without fear of the Yang Vnriang power. Accompanied with changes in the concept of bad death, good death, the refrain will not last to three months in case of bad death; this concept is quit completely in some places. Ruou can can be replaced with white wine. The coffin is not self-made by wood and buy instant-coffin. These are positive signs of progress and civilization in the burial customs of the Co Ho.
In general, marriage and burial customs are two large practices relating to one's life and affect community life. The two main practices have been changed, but not the same. The interment is changed in the way of civilization, science, consistent with the health and community cultural lifestyle, especially those residing near the economical and cultural centers. Meanwhile, marriage tends to mix the “new” culture, especially in ostentatious and expensive wedding.
The reason of these Co Ho changes is complex, but the main reasons are: Co Ho society has made great advances from primitive society to modern society, without appropriate step; living intermix with the Viet and other ethnic groups; the economic, cultural exchange and social organization according to the administrative model of the Viet; enjoying the common education and economy; some different pre-marriage; influence of the modern information - culture; weaken the role of village elders; lack the direction to identify the new and old. Overall these causes have changed the practices in both directions: good and bad practices and customs, progress and backwardness, positive and negative. The direction and control should be carried out seriously, scientifically, in good faith and delicate. Taking the campaign to persuade, gradually creating a positive public opinion, to help people build a new better life
The Ma group
The Ma people live under the patriarchy. So, when a son becomes a mature person (15-17 years) and likes a girl, he will ask for permit from parents to find the matchmaker (call can goi pao) to her house to offer marriage.
After marriage, the woman will come to live with husband's family. After wedding, the groom has to come to live in his wife’s house eight days if he has enough wedding presents to hand over to the bride’s family. If not, he has to live there until he has enough wedding presents to his bride’s family to take his wife back home
When the Ma men want to get married, he has to have buffalo, tea, chicken, pork, clothing, wine, and rings. Wedding ceremony of Ma people is decided by head of village. Married woman rarely comes back her parents’ house. When a husband died, if he has no brother to get married with his wife, the widow has to live in her husband’s house to raise children in three years, then returns to her parents’ house "to another step" with empty hands. Moreover, the widow has to pay back some wedding presents that her husband's family had previously submitted to her family before wedding ceremony. A part of wedding presents are depended on the circumstances of women’s family at the time, but it is usually to organize a party to report to the husband’ family with wine, chickens, pigs or goats, then the representative of woman’s family can bring her back home. In case, the women have a good relationship with their husband's family, she does not want to "remarry" or her husband die when she is in the age of not being able to go further, she can stay with her children and get inheritance with the oldest son.
In case, the wife dies and the husband gets married with the deceased wife's sister (must be mutually agreed), the women has no right to demand the wedding presents if the husband has fulfilled all wedding presents at the wedding with her sister. If the deceased wife has no sister and her husband gets marred with another wife, the properties created by the deceased wife are of the husband’s property
On the other hand, when a girl gets married, Ma people thinks that girl's family loss a worker, so they require a lot of wedding presents to compensate the lose. The man wanted to engage with a woman must parent the future wife’ parents and his fiancée many gifts, they are usually a wine cup, a chicken and other some gifts such as beaded neck collar, tintinnabula, horn comb and some small little jewelry according to his future wife’s interest. Before wedding, the groom has to present to the bride’s family a pair of gongs, thirty big-bellied jars, two buffaloes, three to six pigs. Depending to the asset level paying to bride’s family, the groom can decide to bring her wife to his house or live in his wife’s house
In the past, Ma people have the custom of getting married for their small children. The boy’s family actively brings a chicken, a wife cup to the girl’s family to "express", if the girl’s family receives, it means that they have engaged and will wait for the boy being 15-year-old and getting married. If the girl’s family does not want to engage, they have to repay the wedding presents, if the boy’s family does not want to get married, they will lose all wedding presents and have to compensate for labor to the girl’s family eight days according to regulation
The son has right to inherit the property of their parents. Children were born with their father’s last name. Giving a name for the baby is based on the agreement of senior people in Bon (named for the son by the rhymes of uncles, follow to aunts for the girl). When a woman takes birth for a child, during a week, all relatives cannot go to the forest, to the field, until the eighth day, the woman can bring baby out, and then every people can go to work. Women taking births is saving for a tent with available drinking water to self take care. After seven days, she can bring children back home. If having the son, the mother has to take the sickles, crossbows, knives together. If having the daughter, the mother has to take rice bag, weaving tools, baskets, axes together. Then everyone worship to celebrated with soup, name for the child and bring back home. Today, this custom of Ma people has been innovated in the new ways, it is also making tent but there have a midwives to take care for women at birth or taken to the clinic.
In organizing Ma wedding, there appears many details similar to Co Ho, but there are some differences such as: in the wedding date, the bride brings a firewood basket to groom’s house, broom’s mother will receive the firewood basket, guide the bride and welcome everyone to the wedding ceremony as regulations. Matchmaker will give a cup of wine to the groom, the groom drink a half and give to bride to drink, repeated six times before the presence of the relatives of two families. Then, it is the ring ceremony- a required ritual. Despite having a meal, drink six cups together, it is still informal wedding if they have not given ring each other.
Then there is dancing, singing, beat gongs and drums, blowing horns. In that night, the couple must wake up with villagers and the festival continues for several days and nights.
The residence of the Ma is relatively independent; therefore their marriage is mainly occurred within their group. However, the marriage with other groups is not prohibited. The marriage between the aunt’s son and uncle’s daughter is allowed. In this case, the dowry can be reduced or unwanted. On the contrary, the marriage between the aunt’s daughter and uncle’s son is not allowed.
If the wife dies, the husband is allowed to take her younger sister (if unmarried sister or her husband died), and must be agreed by her, but not allowed to take her older sister (different from the Co Ho). Conversely, if the husband dies, the wife is allowed to take his younger brother (if unmarried or his wife died), but not allowed to take his older husband. If contrary, she will be fined by her village community.
The ancient customs of the Ma allowed taking two, three wives as long as he can. Thus, there was a song:
"Amourornis phoenicurus sings bad things
Raven sings the old story
Who can control the dispute of having the right to take two wives?"
(Chim cuốc hát những điều xấu
Con quạ hát những chuyện xưa
Ai biết điều khiển một vụ tranh cãi có quyền lấy hai vợ)
Today, the marriage of the Ma is changed thanks to economic- culture exchanges with the neighbor and the Viet groups. However, many old customs are still kept. The positive points are promoted; negative points are being removed gradually in accordance with the requirements of modern life.
Like the Co Ho, the traditional family of the Ma family is extended family, in which together many small families. The head of the family is the oldest man, who controls the property and power in family, decides all matters in his house.
When someone dies, the first task of the Ma is: the dead will be wore the best clothes, the legs will be straightened and fastened, both hands will be put face down on the chest, then the head will be put on a bowl. To show their regret for the deceased, the body will be placed in their house from seven to eight days. During the first time, the men will find good woods in the forest to make coffin. The coffin will be entered the house by a big new door, not through daily door. On the third day, the dead are placed in the coffin, and then the relatives will visit and give feasts. The custom of the Ma (as well as the Co Ho) is procurement and distribution of the necessary furniture for the dead as when alive needed to be able to continue "living in another world." The relatives of the dead such as: brothers, descendants often cut and put a part of their hair into the coffin for the "roofing material" of the dead.
The dead will be buried in his/her village, blood and consanguine relationship will be buried in a same cemetery (the taboo place of their own line). The outsider must be the neighbor is allowed to attend the burial in ordinary day. Anyone goes to the cemetery will not be returned to the village right after that time.
When carrying the coffin for burial, the fortunes shared to the dead and crowbar, shovels will be brought. To the cemetery, the coffin will be placed and the grave digging will be started. It is not necessary to view the gigging direction, the depth and width, so long as to reach the coffin. After digging, one tree layer will be put under the coffin, then the mat of the dead when alive will be covered, then the land will be filled up and piled up. After burial, the shared furniture (wealth) will be put near the grave. The furniture must be not intact but a little damaged (not to be stolen), at the foot of the grave, a low-floor is made to put the kitchen appliances. In the funeral of the rich, the buffalo will be thrusting. They make a small barn next to the tomb and put a few bones and horns of killed buffalo (different from the Co Ho, if offer the Gods and the dead by buffalo, its head will be put on the graves).
After the funeral, they will find a stream for bathing before coming home. Arriving home, people attend the burial are not allowed to enter. They should be concentrated and prayed the guava leaves water mixed with chicken blood. After that, people can go home. After the burial is complete, within seven days the Ma will not work in the field. After seven days, they will kill a chicken, cook boiling water, and take suanung leaves (absinth) to make washing celebration before working in the field.
For the funeral, there is no distinction between the villages leader with civilians, everyone dies will be carried in the same way. Dead infants will be buried immediately. Children and adults will be placed left a few days before burying. A burial place is considered the taboo for everyone, except the time of bringing the death for burial, and on ordinary day no one returned this place. Absolutely no one speaks to stranger their burial place. The sudden dead will be buried beyond the place for people died of illness, old age. If the husband or wife died suddenly, the remains must be abstained one year from rice production. The dead wife will be buried in the burial place of her husband’s family, not the wife’s.
The Chu Ru group
The Chu Ru resides on a territory with relatively uniform ethnic people; so far the marital relation is often within the group. The mode of the Chu Ru marriage is monogamous and they will reside in the wife’s house. The woman plays a key role in the marriage called "catch the husband" (as the Co Ho).
The girl has the “catch the husband” right when at the age of 15 or 16. When liking somebody, she will tell her parents to ask the matchmakers, along with her uncle (or eldest sister) brought the offering gifts to see the prospective groom. If the groom’s side agrees, the engagement party will be decided. In the party, the following things will be conducted:
By the specified date, the bride’s side will bring offerings to the groom’s. After the alcohol party between two sides, the matchmaker of the bride will ring and round beads for the future bridegroom to perform the engagement. Then both sides will discuss and agree to the wedding day for couples. The wedding of the Chu Ru is held sumptuously in three or four days, depending on the richness of the bride. Pork, goats or buffalos can be killed. They drink ruou can and sing in the wedding day. After the wedding, the bride must stay in the groom’s house about 15 days to wait the groom receiving from her family. Then the couple will reside permanently in the wife’s house. The receiving ceremony is also held relatively sumptuous within some days in the bride’s house.
Currently, thanks to the advanced marriage, the engagement and welding ceremonies in the groom’s side are also held sumptuously with feasts, live music. In case of having few children (only one son) the engagement from the groom is also acceptable. The woman is allowed to reside in the husband's family, but their children will take the mother’s surname. When being died, the grave will be located in their mother’s line.
Like other ethnic minorities in Lam Dong, in the Chu Ru community, pre-marriage relation is not considered seriously, the woman's virginity does not affect the marriage. But the adultery is considered a felony and punished. The divorce cases are rare, if any, it must be obtained with the approval of the village leader.
Although the monogamous regime was established long ago, but the phenomenon of polygamy still occurs in wealthy families (as well as the Ma, the Co Ho). The husband should have to consult his first wife and get her approval before marrying concubine. In case the husband dies, the widow can take husband's brother (if both sides agree). If not, the woman will be in mourning for her husband for a year, then can "catch other husband" to protect the wealth of the family and ensure stability. The Chu Ru customs allows the aunt’s and uncle’s children (both directions) can get married together.
The traditional society family of Ru Chu is extended family, with the remnants of matriarchy most focused on: the roles of the wife, uncle (miah), and the right of inheritance of the daughter in the family. There are three or four generations living together in a long house (sung tonuh Prong) in Chu Du expended house. The organization of the family bases on the basis of economic community, society and idea (they produce and enjoy their products together), all products will be stored in common place (pi o kho day) and eat together (go prong).
Head of the family is the oldest man. The uncle (miak) is actually the follower in handling all matters such as: division of property, marriage, trade and land transfer. However, because of matriarchal custom, all matters in the family should be consulted the wife. If she agrees, then the uncle on behalf of her will decide.
Today, due to the impact of society, the extended family of the Chu Ru is being broken into many small families. Although the small families are divided: land, cattle and work, eat separately but gathered together around the extended family to form a tribe. Whether small or extended family, in the Chu Ru society, the men will hold key positions in the village, the family line and on the behalf of women to settle family matters.
Similar to the Ho and Ma, the funeral in the Chu Ru is regarded very important. The dead were taken to another world by all the family members and shared the daily wealth. However, there are some differences in the funeral custom of the Chu Ru such as: when someone is deceased, they will invite to hold a ceremony. The coffin is already prepared (can be a round logs cut in two parts and bored their hollow or square form). On the second day, the dead will be shrouded and buried on the third day (so, according to the Chu Ru, the dead will be left in the house for three days). A burial is specified separately for each family line. It's a small plot located higher than the field and about 1km from the home. The grave is about 3m wide x 4m long, 1m deep. The deceased in a family are buried in a common grave; the prior in the bottom, the next is over. After 5, 7 or 10 years, when the economical condition of the family they will exhume, collect the remains in the same coffin and buried. Then the family's grave is carefully buried in a traditional custom of the Chu Ru (grave building ceremony). Every year on the anniversary, everyone in the family and relatives will visit the grave, the procedures of ancestor worship are also conducted at the grave on this day. The Chu Ru does not worship their ancestors or make anniversaries at home.
Co Ho group
This is a field presented the spiritual and religious beliefs of the Co Ho. The Co Ho lives with mountains, so the national relationship is very close and the level of development is limited, so it’s believed that all aspects of the life are decided by supernatural forces. They are the Gods: the sun god, moon god, mountain god, river god, forests god, land god, fields god, houses god, coal god, rice storage god, alcohol jar god,... These are the gods will protect and assist them. Contrary to the gods are devil gods (cha) - soul eater, make people die. The Cha damages the crops, causes disease to humans and livestock. Yang NDU is god who founds the universe, man and all species, supports and protects people.
Depending on the importance of ceremony they can kill cattle, pigs, chickens and goats to offer to the gods. Alcohol is often appeared in each ceremony because it’s believed that gods and humans also love to eat meat and drink. Most ceremonies are conducted by the family and head of the family is the priest. In the village, the sorcerer is responsible for the scourge eradication. The sorcerer can be a man or woman, in addition to treatment, the sorcerer also work in the field as everyone in the village. The trust in god is sometimes blind. Exploiting this phenomenon, the bad people always spreads that the occurrence of disease, death is due to o ma lai.
Depending on the nature of the production the ritual offering will be assigned. The Sre, Nop ... do the wet rice the ritual offering related to wet rice production: firstly is planting ceremony (nho sih sre) undertaken in the field. Chicken blood will be drained into the seeds, mixed well and sown the seed. Then mixing the body and leaves of the taro to sprinkle around the field to hope the gods’ assistance them: good seed germination, mild weather, without pestilent insect and pests, mouse destruction.
After rice planting, the "buffalo washing foot" ceremony will be celebrated. The ceremony is conducted at the home of each family in the evening at the barn. The rituals are follows: the head of the house cuts chicken neck then pours the blood into the jar containing: water and chopped crocus, taro leaves, grass, nohamong. After offering, the jar will be placed in the door of the barn to get rid of the devil to cause illness for buffalo; it will be healthy and reproductive. Then the feasts giving will be started. During the feasts, they clap slightly the ploughshare seven times on the stomach to remind the strenuous season was over.
When the rice is grown throughout the field, the whole village will celebrate sacrifices in the mountain foot to thank gods for timely rain and favorable weather (known as nho wer ceremony: tent). The tent in addition to worship, is also the place to thrush buffalo for the rice god sacrifices on rice blossom (nho kep) to demand for more rice and not destructive by insects. When rice cropping, the neu tree (Lunar new year tree) ceremony (nho tot dong) will be celebrated by each family in their fields. After harvesting, drying, cleaning and stored in the warehouse, the rice fan ceremony (nho san koi) will be celebrated. Final ceremony called barn covering (nho lir voong) will be held in the barn (when grain was poured into the stock).
For the Chil, Lach groups, living by cultivation, the ceremonies associated with the cultivation as: forests offerings, clear of trees, sowing, rain praying, new rice feast ... are held simply but so important.
In all the offering ceremonies the Co Ho, the most important is buffalo thrusting, god’s sacrifices after crop harvesting. The wealth families may also celebrate buffalo thrusting sacrifices and feast the villagers, but most common is buffalo thrusting feast. Buffalo thrusting ceremony with communal meaning for the purpose of thank god, thank Yang NDU for favorable conditions, exceed crops; or buffalo thrusting to welcome new village, harmony with the around villages. The ritual will be carried out as follows: From the previous day, the villagers prepared for buffalo thrusting. The village elders, old people discuss and select thrusting location, assign work for each person, set up the neu tree, set the buffalo forcing, made the sacrifices set, ruou can.
After preparation, the buffalo was forced from the previous evening, all families bring a ruou can to each house and people gather at the thrusting place in that evening to drink ruou can, strike gongs, dance and sing throughout the night. The next morning, the ceremony is celebrated before sunrise. The village elder cuts the chicken neck and applies the blood on the buffalo head and the tree, villagers’ forehead and prays the gods. At this time, the sound of horn, drums resound urgently, a healthy man uses crowbar cut two hind legs of the buffalo. It is collapsed and thrust its shoulder, chest with javelin by men. The elder applies the blood on the tree, fences, and forehead villagers and prays all the good things for people. When the buffalo is dead the ceremony ended. It is skinned, butchered and divided to the village. Bustling atmosphere as Tet (lunar New Year), every home eats buffalo meat, drinks ruou can and praise each other. The fun lasts several days, sometimes a week or fortnight.
The Ma group
Previously, every year, according to agricultural cycle, the Ma celebrates worship of the gods: god of rice (Yang coi), satyrs (Yang bri), god of mountain (Yang bo nom), god of fire (Yang us) ... These ceremonies are conducted at the family or family lines, villages in accordance with the agricultural calendar of the Ma. Forest sacrificial ceremony is conducted before clearing the field. The offerings are: ruou can, chicken or duck. After clearing, the fire god offering will be taken, during the ceremony, they will create fire by traditional ways (using rattan, bamboo, stone and dry grass), and the fire will be used for field firing.
Since seeding the rice to the ground until flowering there are many offerings in each family, sacrificed animals are: chickens and ducks. Before collecting rice, the Ma kills pigs or goats to thank god, this ceremony is called yu rmul. After rice storing in the store, the annual largest offerings (nho rhe) will be started to mark one field season ended.
The sacrificed animals are: pigs, goats, chickens, and ducks. Each host up a tree above his field pulls a pair of roots to put on the roof opposite the door; another tree if the other (or the tree planted in the field) is put near the barn. In some worship ceremonies involving rice there are regimes of strict refrain followed by the whole community. For example, in the yu rmul ceremony, people in the village have to avoid many things in seven days, seven nights. For each offering, ruou can gift is indispensable. After each worship celebration, people eat, beat gongs, blow horns, sing all night. Depending on each kind of worship, the Ma will conduct in the field or at home.
Every five or ten years, the Ma will carry buffalo thrusting ceremony to give thanks, pray to the god of the mountain. Buffalo ceremony is held in family, or villages depending on the specific ability. Neu trees in the ceremonies are very elaborately decorated for several days. The next is Yang worship. The Yang offering house is a small house on stilts is set by the village elder and the elderly choice. Neu tree for buffalo forcing is put just before the Yang worship house and most of the buffalo thrusting ceremony will be taken place in that space. There are cases the ceremony will not be taken place in fixed cycle, if the village elder or a host is warned in a dream by the gods to kill buffaloes for thankful.
Water rice cultivation occupies a very small percentage in the Ma and also conducted some worship ceremony during their farming.
Today, in the area of the Ma, rice offering ceremony is still remained but incompletely as before. Every year, the buffalo thrusting ceremony is held in many areas in village or family after rice season success. This biggest sacrifice of the Ma is not only the manifestation of agricultural belief also many aspects of physical and mental life of a minority group.
The Chu Ru group
The ancestors worship (pokimocay) of the Chu Ru is not in a fixed time, depending on the circumstances of each family that worship will be held at the cemetery. There is no altar in the family. Time offer is also subject, maybe a few years, sometimes tens of years the ancestors worship will be held once (it means only when the family is competent). The tomb built ceremony of the Chu Ru is conducted under very strict traditional rites. They will be the sole master of the festival from start to finish.
The beliefs of the Chu Ru ethnic are polytheistic beliefs as the other indigenous ethnics. This belief is reflected in agricultural rituals like: dam offering (bo mung) for water supply, rice offering when seeding (nhum tot doong or klay doong), new rice offering, harvest offering. In these traditional agricultural rituals, the most notable is ditches offering (mo mung). There is a separate area in Chu Ru village defined by the village owner for this worship. Every year, around February, everyone will come to this place for ceremony. Villagers often offer goats, the village owner often offers horses (horses will be harnessed and covered precious gifts).
Apart from water god offering, also in February, there is also a Yang Wer worship ceremony. Yang Wer is an ancient tree near the village and considered the residence of the powerful gods. In the worship ceremony, the Chu Ru villagers often make effigies: elephant head, tiger head, goat head, buffalo head ... by wood or built of bananas tree. Along with the food and drink will be brought to the tree foot for gods offering. After ceremony a part of offering will be put on the hammock and carried to a place about 100 meters far from Yang Wer tree. The hammock will be lowed, the food will be presented, implying take the Yang go out. Then all the participants will back to the tree and give feasts together.
In addition, every year in March of solar calendar, the Chu Ru also organizes festival in the temple of people accredited with the people, country. The festival is held solemnly, with procession and entertainment. The high communal festival will be chaired by the village owner with the contribution of the villagers as their wishes. The slaughter is also held for the offering. After sacrifice, they will enjoy the offerings. It’s believed that, with offerings, their lives will be more peace, the solidarity and mutual assistance in the Chu Ru communities.
Today, the festivities of the Chu Ru are only taken place when the economic conditions of the family are wealthier, while timely rain and favorable weather exceed crops. However, their festivals are not maintained regularly, the number, type and content of festivals are adjusted in conformity with the new life. But these contents need to be considered in detail and scientific both protect the habits and customs of the festival, and enrich the modern life of the Chu Ru.
III. Some Customs and Practices of the Viet in Lam Dong
The Viet lived in Lam Dong province in the early of twentieth century. The first residence on this land was prisoners, traders and road menders, plantations menders and construction workers. They are the poor class. For living, they had to work for owners hard, and reclaim, break the land for villages set up. So far, the oldest village of the Viet in Lam Dong is almost hundred years old.
There were two massive immigration waves of the Viet to Lam Dong. The first in the years 1954 - 1955, people migrated from the North and other Southern provinces to avoid the enemy's terror. The second was in the years 1976 - 1978, mainly residents of the North and the Central settled according to new economic zone regulations of the Government. It was the time the Viet residents immigrated in waves with large numbers, forming each village where most residents were from the same place.
With these characteristics, traditions and customs of the Viet in Lam Dong is also quite diverse and abundant. Customs of each village is a "copy" or summary from the custom of their native place. Moreover, the time of the Viet in Lam Dong is not enough to form its own practices with its local nuances. However, the village of which regions also has some basic similarities of facts concerning the life of the Kinh in general.
In comparison with the past, traditional marriage customs of the Viet in Lam Dong are reduced from six to three ceremonies: marriage offering, engagement party and weddings. The rituals of each ceremony are less cumbersome, mainly symbolic meaning. In the opinion of all, marriage is always an important task not only with the bride, groom but also a family event.
Wedding ceremony whether in urban or rural areas are always held formally, traditionally. Two families and communities will share the joy of happiness, to determine the responsibility for the new couple.
The wedding party at home is often taken place in countryside. In town, the tendency is cerebrated in restaurant. It is appreciated and encouraged that the bride appears in the ceremony with traditional dress (ao dai) beautifully and smartly. The offerings now of the groom’s side to the bride’s is summary and symbolic meaning, gradually escape from wedding presents exaction. The offerings usually consist of 4 pieces (betel and areca, lights - wine - tea, fruit, cake). In addition, wedding party is also held more active, not just meals but also performance. Some other unsound customs such as: child marriage, forced marriage are almost not existed; some relatively common evils: the fortune telling; hearty, gimmicky giving feasts ... has been eliminated and removed.
Similar to the wedding, the funeral of the Viet in Lam Dong now is no longer inconvenient and harsh as in the past. It’s not necessary to follow "Tho mai gia le". Many unsuitable customs in funeral are not gradually applied in modern life such as: Séance, ghost praying, rolling on the road, cry hiring.
However, it’s considered that the funeral is an important fact in their family, clan. The concept “Sinh ky tu quy” (temporary translate: living is temporary, dead is back) is still existed in many people's spirituality. That makes the ritual visit, anniversary, pray ... are more solemn, sentimental. Today, there is the elderly association in most of the local (villages, wards) to take care the funeral in the community. This work is sentimental, meaningful and consistent with the "solidarity” tradition of our nation, and also the linkages between the community members living out of their native home.
Similar to the Viet community in different areas of the country, the Viet in Lam Dong celebrates many holidays in a year, from January to December each year. Festivals of the Viet are great spiritual significances: firstly the Lunar New Year, then January fifteenth, and then Grave visiting, double Five, July fifteenth, middle autumn, Kitchen God. Festivals of the Kinh show the spiritual side of the agricultural population; alternatively also the rest time after hard working, the need of meeting and cultural activities. Offering in temples, pagodas and similar also show their origin consciousness of various areas in the country. The featured festival is the death anniversary of Hung Kings (March 10th lunar month), it is organized formally in all tempers. It is an opportunity for the Viet people everywhere expressing his feelings towards the homeland.
IV. Some Principal Customs and Practices of Other Ethnic Groups
In addition to the three indigenous groups (the Co Ho, Ma, Chu Ru) and the Viet, there are 40 other ethnic groups in Lam Dong in small numbers (only around 15% of the total population of the province). They live equally, alternatively in remote areas with the Viet and the indigenous groups in Lam Dong. Basing on the nature of group and original residence, it can be roughly divided into 3 ethnic groups as follows:
Groups of northern ethnic minorities;
Highland ethnic groups;
Other ethnic groups.
Group of northern ethnic minorities including the groups of the Northern mountainous provinces like: Tay, Thai, Nung, Muong, Tho, Man, Dao. A division migrated to Lam Dong before and after 1954 is more prosperous and residing outside area near the town. This division contacts with the capitalist society and the market mechanism and their customs have been changed. However, they still retain the basic characteristics of ancient custom in: wedding, funeral, festivals such as: marriage under patriarchy right, polytheistic religion and ancestry worship. The funeral is also very important. It is carried out carefully by the people in the community, especially the role of magicians (they mo) to offer the dead in a couple of days. Weather cyclical festival, especially there are many popular, cultural art activities such as: con throwing, swing, spreading dance, trumpet, and tinh tau playing in Spring Festival.
A division of free migration after 1975 also kept and brought many traditional customs and practices to Lam Dong, especially the dress of ethnic girls such as: head covering (Thai, Tay ...), shin-guard trousers (quan xa cap) of the Tho ... . Today, because of less attention than other ethnic minorities, their customs and practices are lost in oblivion. The young people almost do not use the ethnic language, almost activities; traditional annual festivals as the Viet are disappeared.
Highland ethnic groups include: M'Nong, Ede, H're, Rac Lay, Xtieng ... are freedom migration division and they live in certain areas. Like other indigenous peoples in Lam Dong, the role of village elders, tribal chief are very important, who resolves concerning things in their community? Marriage regime is different on each group, can be patriarchal or matriarchal, but the ancient practice of marriage is still remained as: wedding presents exaction in buffalo, jar, gold, silver, long-days party. For the funeral, the division to the dead is still remained. The grave leaving festival is the largest festival interested by all members of the community. Buffalo thrusting tradition is often taken place in the important festivals and in accordance with the cycle plant with polytheistic beliefs, not ancestor worship. After the grave leaving festival, the responsibilities of the living with the dead are completed.
The other ethnic groups are: Hoa, Khmer, in which Hoa groups predominates over the Khmer.
The Hoa is throughout the province. They mainly trade in populated center and live quite independently in villages and hamlets. Their customs and practices are still remained relatively stable such as: the marriage will be decided by parents, marriage according to patriarchy, the daughter in the family is less caring, little access to education, not involved in social work and quite depend on her husband when getting married. The funeral is prepared very attentively. Regarding the religion, their religious are: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, ancestor worship and animism are also important. There are lion, dragon dancing during festivals.
Today, though in small numbers but they live in groups, some in the urban makes trading and most of them are very wealthy; some farms and breeds crops laborious and hard. Their language and customs have been preserved and promoted. Because long-living in Vietnam, their language, customs have been much changed over the Viet. They get along with the Viet and other ethnic groups in Lam Dong.
In summary, customs and practices are pervasive natural facts in the thought and language, the soul and intellect, the way of behavior, the custom and practice, the art and literature and in the total value of material culture and spirit of the people and their groups. The customs and practices of ethnic groups in Lam Dong is a colorful flower garden with its scent that creating the intellectual, soul of every person in the ethnic communities in Lam Dong province.