Promoting the Cham culture

(VOVworld) – Vietnam’s Cham ethnic culture is being challenged by globalization and international integration. A recent workshop organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and An Giang province raised the issue of protecting and promoting the Cham culture. 

Promoting the Cham culture - ảnh 1
The opening ceremony of the Cham ethnic culture festival 2016 in An Giang on July 16, 2016

The Cham ethnic group have their distinctive language, belief, architecture, sculpture, customs, music, and art. But these traditional values are under  threat. Fairy tales, prayer books, and thousands of pages of 16th century documents written in the Akhar Thrah script are being lost. Measures have been taken to revive the Cham culture. Young people are taught the history of their ethnic group and how to write the ancient Cham scripts. Thập Liên Trưởng, a researcher of Cham culture in Ninh Thuan province, said: “Teaching the Cham language is different from teaching Vietnamese.  Vietnamese words are monosyllabic, but Cham words are polysyllabic. So the teaching methods should be different.”

Performances of the unique musical instruments of the Cham – the Kanhi monochord fiddle, the Paranung drum, the Saranai flute, and the gong – are confined to local communal events and religious rituals. Cham songs are becoming rare. Vũ Thị Kim Yến, a music editor for Ho Chi Minh City Television, says: “We should adopt preferential policies that encourage teaching Cham music to young Cham people. This will enable them to create works that both inherit the traditional trait and match era’s trend.”

Researchers recomment incorporating Cham folk music into entertainment programs for the Cham and non-Cham communities. Cham songs and melodies should be recorded and advertised. A promotion strategy should clearly identify typical characteristics of the Cham. Dr. Phú Văn Hẳn, Deputy Director of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Southern Region, said: “Cham culture has changed very little in the southern region’s multicultural environment. Its distinctive characteristic is Islamic culture. The Cham culture is diverse and differs by region. We need to respect and preserve this culture.”