Health worship ceremony of the Ede

(VOVWORLD) - Health worship is an important ritual of the Ede ethnic group living in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. It shows the respect of children and filial piety to their grandparents and parents through prayers to the Gods and ancestors to bless family members with good health, happiness, and prosperity.
Health worship ceremony of the Ede - ảnh 1A shaman and villagers prepare a health worship ceremony. (Photo: Hong Trang)

According to Ede customs, people having parents of over 50 years old will organize a health worship ceremony to wish them good health and thank them for their parental care.

Since early morning, the house of H’Thinh Kbuor and Y Le Nie in Cu M’gar District has been crowded with people coming in and out. They come to help cook the meal and prepare offerings.

The house’s owner, Y Le Nie said they organize a health worship ceremony for Y Hai Kbuor, an uncle of his wife.

“A health worship for our uncle is held on his birthday to wish him good health and happiness. Before the ceremony, we prepared chicken, pork, and liquor, a gong performance, and other rituals. We invite our relatives and friends to come to share our happiness” he said.

The tray of offerings has a candle planted in a bronze urn, a handful of burning coal, a bronze cup of liquor, betel nuts and areca leaves, steamed rice, and a grilled chicken. There are eight jars of liquor placed in the middle of the house, of which one jar is an offering to the ancestors, five jars for Y Hai’s ritual, and two jars to greet their guests.

The gongs are played to begin the worship and will continue throughout the ceremony. The worshipped person sits on the east side of the house, next to the offerings. The shaman, family members, and guests sit opposite him. The ceremony has three stages. The first is to invite ancestors to the ceremony. The second is to pray for the worshipped person. And the last is to thank the participants for coming to offer their congratulations.

Health worship ceremony of the Ede - ảnh 2The shaman gives a bronze bracelet to Y Hai Kbuor as a symbol of sustainability, development, good life, and good health. (Hong Trang)

82-year-old Y Hai Kbuor looks healthy dressed in his Ede traditional costume. He said he is very happy as this is the fourth time his offspring has organized a health worship ceremony for him.

“Today is a happy day. Thank you, my children, grandchildren, and relatives, for organizing another health worship ceremony for me and upholding the traditions of our ancestors. I am now old and weak, and the worship ceremony will bless me to live happily in health. I’m very happy. I thank my family, children, grandchildren and the whole village for coming," Kbuor said.

After each stage of worship, Y Hai and the shaman eat a bit of rice and pork, and drink a little liquor as a symbolic gesture to receive the good things that the ritual brings him. The shaman gives a jar of liquor and a bronze bracelet to Y Hai. Then the children, grandchildren, and family members take turns to give him bronze bracelets and gifts. The Ede believe that the bronze bracelet symbolizes sustainability, development, good life, and good health.

Shaman Y Choch Nie said, “Each descendant and relative in the extended family of the worshipped person congratulates him and gives him a bronze bracelet or necklace and other gifts.”

“It is not only a celebration but also recognition of the relatives and descendants in the extended family. It affirms family bonding to help each other when they are in need. Wearing a bronze bracelet represents the affirmation of their close relationship.”

The Ede’s health worship ceremony starts when the person is 50 years old, and then is repeated at ages 60, 70, and more depending on the family’s conditions.

“The health worship ceremony has revitalized the Ede’s cultural traditions and taught the children of their cultural customs and the role of family relations. It’s a fine tradition of the Ede, and it can contribute to developing tourism in Cu M’gar District,” Y Wem H Wing, Vice Chairman of Cu M’gar District People’s Committee, said. 

The health worship ceremony is an important milestone in the life of an Ede person. At a health worship ceremony, the local people and visitors learn more about the Ede’s culture, the gong cultural space, the custom of drinking liquor from a jar, and the family relationship.

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