Fire stoves in the lives of Kon Tum ethnic minorities

In the middle of a cold winter night, fires still flicker in the stilt houses, radiating warm light, despite the wind and rain, protecting the villagers through the cold winter. It is a place to cook food, warm up, where old people tell stories, young people learn life stories, a place to bond with neighbors, a place to gather for songs, make love, and start love between couples. . The stove for Kon Tum ethnic minorities is not only a daily living space for the whole family but also has a great spiritual meaning.

July 23, 2013 1 travelFire on the festive night

Fire in spiritual life

Since ancient times, the lives of Kon Tum ethnic minorities have been closely linked to fields and forests, so the role of fire is more necessary than ever. Starting from spiritual life, fire plays an important role in the nation’s festivals. According to traditional beliefs, ethnic people always believe in the God of Fire – the god who embodies luck and blesses people with a prosperous and happy life. The Fire God is present in all family festivals such as longevity celebration, ear blowing ceremony, New Year’s celebration, new rice offering… they bring out wine, fire rises, and dance around the flickering stove. On the first day of the new year, each family sends one person to pick up the Fire God from the communal house to his house, solemnly light it in the kitchen, the red fire celebrates the first day of the new year, the bright fire brings the belief of a prosperous harvest. enough, the family is happy and prosperous, sons and daughters have strong shoulders and flexible legs. The ceremony to worship the Fire God was prepared many days ago. On the night of the ceremony, the villagers gathered in the yard in front of the Rong House. When the horn sounds to signal the start of the ceremony, all villagers turn to the village elder, listening to the village elder’s prayers, which is also the wish of the whole community. After the vow, the village elders personally kill the sacrificial chicken, buffalo, pig or goat, use the blood of the sacrificial animal to smear the prepared torches and rub two bamboo sticks together to create a flame. The fire lit up in the middle of the mountain and forest night, lighting up every dark corner. The fire was shared with each community stove.

July 23, 2013 2 toursGie Trieng people enjoy wine next to the fire – Photo: Nguyen Kol

Each ethnic group has the custom of worshiping the Fire God but with different concepts: The Co Ho people also have a custom of worshiping the Fire God at the beginning of the new year, that sacred fire is preserved throughout the year; Ca Dong people worship the sacred stove in a closed, carefully kept room, viewing the fire god as the one who takes care of family life; The Ede and Mnong people consider fire to be a god of luck, blessing a prosperous life; Xe Dang people often hold a fire ceremony during the water trough festival in the spring. The Co Tu people live in multi-generational long houses, the kitchen is the main living space of the people. Above the kitchen, homeowners often hang the skulls of deer, deer, bison, etc., praying that Giang will always bless their family to hunt many wild animals. For the Gie Trieng people, the kitchen is always carefully and strictly protected by the homeowner; Children are not allowed to play around and cause disturbance in the kitchen. Guests coming to the house are respectfully invited by the homeowner to sit around the fire and chat, but they are not allowed to use chopsticks or firewood to knock on the stove or knock on the stove because according to the concept of doing so, it will harm the god of fire and cause the god to get angry. bad for the host family. When a family builds a house, the placement of the kitchen is also important and must be considered carefully because it has many spiritual meanings. After performing related rituals, the homeowner organizes the slaughter of pigs and chickens to worship the fire god before members enter the house to live, live, and cook.

In daily life

With a life still heavy on hunting and little market exchange, saving food is inevitable, and the fire is the best place to store food. Surely you have heard of the famous wild meat of the Kon Tum ethnic minority people. The meat from hunted wild animals cannot be eaten enough, it is cut into pieces, marinated with a little salt and then hung above the stove. After a while, the heat radiated onto the meat and became firmer. It was coated with a layer of soot, so it had a natural deep brown color and retained its sweetness. When lightly grilled on a charcoal stove, the aroma filled the nose. Guests come to the house, sit by the fire to chat, enjoy wild meat from the stove, and add some wine, there really isn’t a more wonderful moment.

July 23, 2013 3 toursH’re woman next to the fire – Photo: Dinh Dung

Playing an important role in spiritual life, the stove is where all simple daily activities take place. Where adults meet each other, discuss business, marry their children, share their joys and sorrows… they believe that fire will dispel many bad things and bring good luck. warm. When guests come to the house to light a fire, they show hospitality and sincerity. The host and guests gather around the red fire to think and chat. The fire is always red to bring fullness and keep the soul in the family. The sacred kitchen always brings peace to the villagers, brings harmony, a prosperous and happy life, creates abundant material wealth for each family… On the fields, each family has a small hut to Rice and corn farmers also set up a small fire to cook and guard their products on the fields. At night, the fire in the small hut protects from the winter cold and drives away snakes and wild animals, which is a good sign for those who have traveled far. Before leaving the field, the owner always buries the fire, forms the ashes into a pile and places a stone on it as a sign to let others know where the fire god resides, not to step on or step across. via. In the winter, there is nothing warmer than the sight of the whole family gathering around a flickering fire, listening to village elders tell old and epic stories, with children and grandchildren sitting around, listening to each story. There are also festivals where all the villagers gather together, the elderly sit together, and review old memories. The young people were singing and having fun, an opportunity for boys and girls to speak up and express their feelings.

Nowadays, the economy is developing and in order to adapt to the new living environment, many couples after getting married ask permission from both families to live separately and build separate houses but still carry out important rituals when setting up a kitchen. . The culture has also changed significantly, but for Kon Tum ethnic minorities, the fire still retains its sacred meaning, and the customs surrounding the fire remain intact./.

Ha Oanh

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