Exploring our land

Nha Rong celebration of the Bahnar

Celebrating a new Nha Rong (communal house) is the biggest festival of the Bahnar in the Central Highlands. The ceremony is a chance for villagers to show their gratitude to the gods for their support to the community. 
Nha Rong is regarded as a symbol of the Central Highlands. It is a common home for ethnic people because all community activities take place there.

The celebration of a new Nha Rong is to thank the gods for their protection and beg for their support for health, peace and prosperity for the village. It is a beautiful cultural trait of the ethnic people in the Central Highlands in general, and the Bahnar in particular.

The ceremony must be conducted by Bob Kra, a village patriarch who has the highest prestige in the community. Bob Kra is believed to be assigned by the gods to take charge of this important rite.

When the construction of a Nha Rong is completed, Bob Kra invites other old men in the village to Nha Rong to discuss the preparation and choose a date for the celebration.

Villagers gather at Nha Rong for the ceremony.

Old villagers prepare the offerings.

Cay neu is erected in front of Nha Rong.

The offerings.

Old villagers perform the ritual.

A jar of ruou can and meat offered to the gods. 

Inside Nha Rong.

Old villagers conduct the ruou can drinking ritual.

Young gong players dance around the new Nha Rong.

The village patriarch conducts a ritual inside Nha Rong.

Outside Nha Rong.

Young boys play gongs.

Drinking ruou can in front of Nha Rong.

The young gong players perform throughout the ceremony.

Festive activities after the ceremony.

After the date of the ceremony is decided, an altar is set up under the stairs of Nha Rong for an offering ritual to the ancestors of the village. Offerings of this ritual include two pigs, three chickens and six jars of ruou can (rice wine drunk out of a jar through bamboo straws). During this ritual, the village patriarch recites prayers and informs the ancestors of the celebration of Nha Rong.

The ancestor offering ritual is followed by the main ceremony dedicated to the gods, which is held inside Nha Rong. The main offerings are jars of ruou can and meat which are contributed by the villagers. The jar of ruou can offered to the gods is placed in the middle of Nha Rong, the most important place in the house. Another jar is put next to cay neu which is a bamboo pole erected in front of Nha Rong. Other jars of ruou can contributed by the families in the village are placed under the wood pillars of Nha Rong.

After all the offerings are in place, the ceremony starts with the village patriarch reciting prayers to invite the gods to Nha Rong and ruou can is offered to them. During this ritual, a group of young boys beat gongs and drums while dancing around Nha Rong.

After the praying formality, the village patriarch and other old men mix chicken blood with ruou can in a jar and pour them on the pillars of Nha Rong, an act which symbolizes the purification of the new house. The jar containing the mixture of chicken blood and ruou can is then kept in Nha Rong.

The ceremony is followed by activities that last for three days. 
By Cong Dat 

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