‘Praying for a fertile crop’ festival on Ly Son Island

Wednesday - 03/10/2018 06:21
As far as the history counts, the Vietnamese have a tradition of agriculture, which highlights the connection and harmony to the nature. The farmers always wish for the favorable weather and fertile crops. With these wishes, the religious belief worshipping the Farming God has existed and passed through generations for ages. It is believed that’s the Farming God who taught farmers how to cultivate rice, make farming tools and create medicine for healthcare. He is also considered the first person holding the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

Ly Son is an island district of Quang Ngai province, comprising of An Vinh and An Hai communes (Big island) and An Binh commune (Small island) with a small area of ​​farming land as the whole area of Ly Son district is around 10 km2. Though local people mainly earn their living from fishery, agriculture is also an important livelihood. It is thus no wonder the Farming God is indispensable among the gods worshipped here. Aside from being worshipped at An Hai village temple, he is also worshipped in a separate temple at the foot of mountain at Dong Ho village. The reason that a separate temple dedicated to Him may be justified that the farmers in this area outnumber the other two communes of the district.

Farming God Temple at the foot of Thoi Loi Mountain at Dong Ho hamlet, An Hai commune, Ly Son district

The festival is annually held in the middle of the 3rd lunar month. The rituals of the festival is performed in a very dignified manner with full steps from the rituals of  “Local leaders introduced to God” to “Main ceremony to thank God”. The ceremony is split into different stages of beginning, middle and closing, including the oration and folk music performance and five-tone music performance.

The sanctum for Farming God worship in the Temple

The unique characteristics of worshiping Farming God here is that besides making offerings to the God in the sanctum, the village elders also make offerings to the souls of dead people and the forsanke spirits at the altars outside the main temple with the same rituals to the God.

Officiating priest preparing for offerings to the souls of dead people

Depending on the local people’s different economic conditions, the sacrifices to Farming God also vary. They offer to the God what they have. If they have well-to-do economic conditions, they may offer the pigs to the God or normally chickens. However, the main indispensable sacrifices include incense, candles, fruit, betel and areca, wine, rice, salt, and votive paper.

Sacrifices to Farming God

The festival is deeply ingrained in the local residents’ minds of An Hai commune, Ly Son district. This festival expresses a deep spiritual significance. This is a chance for the local people to express their gratitude towards the God’s support for the favorable weather in the past year and also to pray for peaceful life and verdant crops in the coming year.

Worshipping Farming God also contributes to raising the community spirit, bringing the people who have the same mean of living together. The recovery and maintenance of Farming God worship ritual is a legitimate demand of local people, especially in the context that parts of the inhabitants still earn their living from agriculture.

Author: Pham Tan Thien

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