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Thanh Minh Festival of Tay people in Chiem Hoa

TQO - Thanh Minh (grave-visiting) Festival is one of the most important festivals of Tay ethnic groups in Chiem Hoa as it is a celebration for descendants to remember the credits of their ancestors and the dead with gratitude.

During Thanh Minh Festival, people cut the grass, clean up, and then fill soil on their ancestors’ graves. In the Tay people’s belief, ancestor veneration lays a spiritual foundation to connect people together.

Offerings for this occasion are prepared carefully, including chicken, pork, fish, fruit, flowers, eggs, votive papers, wine, and five-coloured sticky rice, especially ‘Troi’ (floating rice) cakes, ‘Chay’ cakes (small balls made from green bean paste wrapped in a shell of glutinous rice flour), and ant egg rice cakes.

The custom of making ‘Troi’ cakes, ‘Chay’ cakes and ant egg rice cakes in Thanh Minh ritual has been well-maintained by Tay ethnic people in Chiem Hoa.

Tay people in Chiem Hoa District have a unique custom whereby each clan chooses its own burial ground, and families of the clan contribute their offerings for a joint worshipping ritual. On behalf of the clan’s members, a patriarch or prestigious elder hosts the ritual.

Following the ritual, families divide into small groups to cut down trees, uproot grasses, backfill and repaint the graves. Each grave is decorated with several coloured paper flowers and a bamboo maypole as a way to show filial piety.

When the ritual is completed, the patriarch burns votive papers, then informs the participants on the result of graves’ regrouping and repairing in recent years. The family members then gather together to enjoy the offerings.

To sum up, Thanh Minh Festival is considered to be a beautiful cultural feature that helps educate younger generations on their roots and encourage them to live in solidarity, love and mutual care.

Quang Hoa

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