BINH THUAN (VNS)— The Cham Bani people around the country will celebrate their month-long Ramuwan Festival starting today, coinciding with Ramadan.
During the month many Muslims around the world do not eat or drink even water between sunrise and sunset, though not so much among the Cham.
The festival starts three days earlier when they wear their traditional white sarong and long tunic – though the women are dressed more colourfully — and go to cemeteries to cleanse ancestral graves, worship their ancestors, and "invite them back home for celebrating Ramuwan".
Yesterday, in the south-central province of Binh Thuan, hundreds of Cham in Bac Binh District's Phan Hoa Commune took fruits, cakes, soft drinks, and beers to Dong Trang (White Sand Hill) cemetery as offerings.
Before starting the rituals they weeded and poured water on their ancestors' graves.
Luong Tien Truong, a local Cham man, said the graves of his and his wife's families are in three different places and so the rituals have to be done on three separate days.
After finishing at the cemetery, people make offerings of glutinous rice cake filled with green bean paste, ginger cakes, and patties filled with green peas and glutinous rice powder at home.
Tho Thi Tiet, also from Truong's village, said they take fruit, food, betel and areca, cakes, and drinks to a mosque on the afternoon of the second day of the festival to invoke God's blessings for peace, happiness, and prosperity.
After this they take such offerings to the mosque four times every day for the rest of the month.
During the month many religious ceremonies are performed.
Ramuwan ends with "a party to celebrate a successful festival," Tiet said.
Like Vietnamese and Tet (lunar new year festival), the Cham use the festival as an opportunity to visit home and gather together with their families, she added.
People also perform traditional songs and dances to celebrate Ramuwan.
In 1834 King Ming Mang banned the festival, but his successor, King Thieu Tri, lifted the ban in 1841, since when the festival has been held again.
Viet Nam had 161,729 Cham people, according to the 2009 census, mostly living in the provinces of Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan.
Binh Thuan has more than 41,000, 15,000 of them Muslim Cham Bani and the rest mostly Hindus. — VNS