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Experiencing Kate

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Kate, a popular cerebration of the Cham ethnic minority, is a festival of the Cham Ahier people to commemorate the ancestors and masculine Cham Gods whom they believe bring about a peaceful and prosperous life.


Together with the Chabur celebration, which takes place in the ninth month of the Cham calendar (around December) to honor the goddesses, these holidays form a symbolic unity between the dualities of male and female, yang and yin, night and day, etc.


Celebrated equally through the life of the Cham people, these opposing forces foster their wishes for the prosperity of mankind, animals, and crops.


Each year the Kate festival is celebrated in the Ninh Thuan Province at the beginning of the seventh month of the Cham calendar (at end of September or early October).


The important ceremonies take place at the kalan (towers) on the first day of the festival while the other activities are celebrated in the paley (village) by Cham families throughout the rest of the month.


The opening of the Kate festival fell on the 11th of October this year. Starting early in the morning the area around the Po Klong Garai Tower was crowed with ceremonial members in their ritual robes, women in vivid traditional dresses, and children in their Sunday best.


The crux of the ritual came when clothing was brought to the tower.

 

The tower was opened, the statue of the deity inside was bathed and clothed, and then the statue was presented offerings by the people.


This ritual was performed while traditional Cham musicians played a style of music they call On Kadhar on instruments known as Kanhi.


Ethnologists who study Cham culture consider the music performed during the Kate festival to typify the traditional style of Cham music.


On Kadhar is meant to convey the Cham’s concepts of life, love, and pride, as well as to express their wishes for a better life.


After the musicians per-formed songs sung to about 30 various deities and ancestors, the Cham people presented their offerings to the Gods.


The offerings included specialties from land and sea such as goats, chickens, fish, rice, fruits, and flowers and fish.


After the completion of this ritual the Cham people danced to Ginang (drumming) and Saranai (clarinet playing).


While the ceremonies at the towers, especially at the infamous Po Klong Garai, are feasts of color and sound, most outsiders were not privy to the festival activities that took place in Cham villages such as My Nghiep, Bau Truc, and Huu Duc around the Ninh Thuan Province.


The activities at the village included weaving contests, contests where the participants carried water using buk (ceramic jars), and other exciting activities.


The Cham people reveled in the opportunity that the Kate festival gave them to strengthen their relationships between families, family members, and villagers.


Source: vietnamtourism.com.vn


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