Worship of hamlet genies

(VOVworld) – Living in high mountains, the Ha Nhi depend largely on nature. They believe that genies have blessed them with a peaceful life and given them forests, water, rice, and other kinds of food. The Ha Nhi attach importance to worshipping genies to thank their merits.

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Ha Nhi people celebrate the village worship, also called the village prohibition ceremony

The Ha Nhi believe that all things have souls. Before sowing rice or maize seedlings to begin a new crop, they prepare an offering to worship the hamlet genies. They pray the Heaven God and genies for good weather, chasing evil spirits, and bumper crops. The 3-day village worship is also called village prohibition because during that time villagers are not allowed to leave the village while the outsiders are not welcomed in. The villagers prepare a pig, a rooster, and a tray of yellow steamed glutinous rice. Folklorist Nguyen Hung Vy says: “The Ha Nhi prepare yellow glutinous rice because it represents the color of ripen rice on terraced fields. The yellow is seen as a respectful color of offering to the genies.” 

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A shaman prepares the offering

The women collect yellow leaves to color the rice. The men plant a bamboo pole on an empty land at the front of the village. On top of it hung a rooster, a bow, and an arrow pointing outside the village. From the pole they stretch a rope across the entrance to the village and hang knives and spearheads on it to scare off evil spirits. Folklorist Hung Vy again: “When the rooster crows the sun rises, therefore the roaster is a sacred animal in the Ha Nhi’s ceremony to call for the sun. It’s a sacred animal which is able to chase away darkness and ghosts.”

During the ceremony shamans perform many rituals to convey people’s wishes to their ancestors and genies.

Associate Professor, Doctor Nguyen Van Huy says: “The ceremony is dedicated to all protective genies of the Ha Nhi habitat and forests. The village prohibition ceremony is of great importance.”

During the ceremony, the Ha Nhi give each other eggs wrapped in glutinous rice as a symbol of good luck.

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