Rain praying ceremony of the Lo Lo

(VOVWORLD) - Rain praying is an important ritual of the Lo Lo ethnic minority in the northern mountain province of Cao Bang. The ceremony is closely associated with the customs, life, and production of the Lo Lo for generations.

Rain praying ceremony of the Lo Lo - ảnh 1Offerings at the rain praying ceremony often include a buffalo. (photo: caobang.gov.vn)

The Lo Lo believe that all daily activities are controlled by natural superpower of deities. One of them is the Rain deity.

The rain praying ceremony carries their wish of sufficient rain for lush plants, bumper crop, healthy people, abundant livestock, and prosperity.

“The ceremony is held in the third lunar month. We pray for favorable weather and good harvest,” Chi Van Son, a Lo Lo man in Bao Lac district, said.

The ceremony is held in one day, but the preparation should take a month with a lot of work. The villagers meet at the communal house to choose a good day and a shaman to hold the worship, and make a list of ceremonial clothes, worship items, and offerings.

Every household is assigned to prepare worship items and help the shaman. The ceremony is held in the forest part where the Lo Lo ancestors have chosen for worship. The Lo Lo believe that the forest is the residence of the deities and the place to keep water for the villagers.

The rain praying ceremony has two parts, the ritual and festival. The ritual is organized by the shaman with the participation of all villagers. Offerings such as dogs, chickens, and pigs are tied around the ceremonial table, and the shaman read the prayers to offer them to the deities. Then the male villagers prepare the worshipped animal to offer on the altar again.

A group of ceremonial men will have breakfast at the shaman's house. Then they follow him to the sacred forest to hold the ceremony. A man tows a buffalo to the site first. It’s followed by four people carrying a tray of offerings. Behind them is the shaman, two assistant shamans, the ceremonial team, and the villagers. 

Rain praying ceremony of the Lo Lo - ảnh 2A shaman performs the rain praying ritual. (photo: caobang.gov.vn)

“The offering has a buffalo, a dog, and 3 chicken. The dog and the chicken are believed to be able to chase away evil spirits. The Lo Lo organize the rain praying ceremony annually to pray for good weather and good harvest, healthy and happy people. The ceremony is held on the day of the dragon in the zodiac. All villagers join the ceremony,” said Shaman Nong Van Thang, in Bao Lam district.

When the shaman finishes the ritual, each family will send one member to eat the offering with the shaman. The taboo at this time is that when eating, they must not talk but just eat at the instruction of the shaman. When the eating procedure is finished, the shaman stands up and chants a spell, everyone leaves their seat to go to the village's feast area, where other villagers gather to eat, dance, and sing. 

“We all gather at the communal cultural house to eat with invited guests. We pray for rain to have water to sow rice seeds,” said villager Nong Thi Lien.

During the rain praying ceremony, the shaman performs a very important step to bury a chicken. The ritual determines whether the ceremony is successful or not. Three days after the ceremony, the shaman returns to the forest to check whether the burial site of the chicken looks good or not. If the land is not subsided, the ceremony is successful and the deities have the wishes. Otherwise they will redo the burial ritual.

The rain praying ceremony has been upheld from generation to generation. For the Lo Li it’s also an occasion to meet, share, and connect the community.

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