Foreign tourists with Kon Tum gong culture

[Tin Kon Tum] – One day in early March, it was after seven o’clock in the evening, in KonKôTu village – Ba Na cultural village in Dak Ro Wa commune, 8km from Kon Tum city. Coming here, I saw several different groups of foreign tourists coming to attend the gong festival organized by a travel company in the province. Talking to me were Ms. Christiane and Mr. Patrice Poirier, a French couple, living in the suburbs of Paris, retired, present in Kon Tum on a tour by Vidotour travel agency.

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Sinus ring at the festival to celebrate the new communal house in KonKlor village, Kon Tum city – Photo: Khoa Diem.

To have money for this tour, the couple had to save for many years. The couple’s biggest wish when coming to Kon Tum is to immerse themselves in the magical space of a gong festival. After two days visiting the cultural villages of Ba Na and Ja Rai and walking among the wild scenery of the mountains and forests, then rowing a dugout canoe on the romantic Dak Bla river.

Image result for Canoeing on the Dak Bla River.Dugout canoe on Dak Bla river.

At this time, our grandparents are waiting to enjoy a unique type of culture, vividly portrayed, in its true, authentic space.

We talked for a long time, but the gong team was still not fully present according to the schedule announced by the instructor. The grandparents seemed very unhappy about not being quick and on time according to regulations. I understood my grandparents’ impatience and immediately explained a little so that they could understand and sympathize with this delay: “The village’s gong and sinus dance performance teams are ordinary people, not artists. Special artists only specialize in dancing and singing; During the day, they go to work in the fields to make a living, and in the evening, after bathing, washing, taking care of food… then they have time to participate in the gong festival”, this is a bad habit but an easy one. their love, I emphasize further. This proves that: “The performance of gongs is the time for activities and entertainment of the whole community when they are free or have leisure time, and their concept of time is not the same as now.” So they haven’t gotten used to modern life yet…” “Today, in addition to their own special festivals, performing gongs for tourists is an opportunity to exchange, cultivate, and strengthen the community, passing it on to the next generation, not It’s not commercialized, it’s done perfunctorily.”

Then in the stillness of the dark night, a few deep gong sounds rang out, directing us to the middle of the large yard under the soaring roof of the Rong house. They were surprised to see by the flickering firelight, many old people and children came to watch the performance, and especially about 15 men wearing loincloths, along with about 30 lovely young women in traditional dresses. black but no less colorful with lively, graceful stylized patterns, shyly huddled together when seeing a group of strange guests. But after just a few gongs, the gong sounded and everyone got into position. The village’s artisans welcome visitors through the first song with a clear, bustling sound like the sound of a flowing stream or birds singing in the deep forest. Occasionally they simultaneously let out a wild howl in the middle of the night. la, they are inviting the Gods to join the festival with them tonight. After a moment of being surprised and silent with emotion, with still shy steps, Mr. and Mrs. Poirier joined the circle, rotating to the rhythm of the gongs and the sound of the gongs with joy and excitement…

Image result for KonKôTu cultural village gong team

KonKôTu cultural village gong team.

While the artisans were taking a break, they were invited by the Ba Na young women to the central location, where jars of wine were placed for each group. For the first time, they enjoyed the warm spicy can wine, they excitedly ordered it. asked many questions, the instructor slowly answered all of their questions. Turning to me, they said: “In France, not many people know about gong culture before UNESCO recognized it as a world cultural heritage. I really admire the people here, they told us how they played the gongs, we will probably never live in such a wonderful space like today, amidst a community atmosphere. The community is so warm and happy like this…”.

I am very happy to see that they have understood the core issue of Central Highlands gongs and are living in its true atmosphere. Knowing they wouldn’t be able to stay here long, I took the opportunity to introduce gong culture – this special heritage to them: “All cultural activities of the ethnic groups in the Central Highlands have the presence of gongs. Having a special attachment to each person from the moment of birth to the moment of death, the sound of gongs always follows and guides the soul to the Mang Lung realm. The gongs of each ethnic group, even each local group and each village have their own language. Through it, people were able to express the sadness and joy of their nation, hear the sound from which gongs and which gong songs the villagers and neighboring communities understood that something was going on. in the place where the gong sounds…”. They attentively listened to every word I said and always expressed their admiration with the words: “It’s so wonderful…”!

The deep sound of gongs rang out again, and the Ba Na girls pulled them into the flexible circle. Looking at the foreigners’ awkward limbs, trying to imitate the rhythmic movements of the sinus team, with occasional bursts of laughter, someone must have realized that they were walking in the wrong rhythm.

I was about to immerse myself in that bustling, joyful, and united atmosphere when I suddenly heard a question from a foreign guest: “Are you a native here?” That was also a French tourist. I saw him taking pictures endlessly from beginning to end, like a professional photographer with all kinds of lenses of different sizes on his back.

Without waiting for my answer, he continued: “This is the third time I have come to the villages in Kon Tum. I have been to many places and many times witnessed troupes in neighboring provinces performing gongs for tourists, but I did not feel the emotional atmosphere like here. They did it in a perfunctory, perfunctory way, and it felt very commercial, so I couldn’t feel the soul in it.” “I have also witnessed people playing gongs in real ceremonies such as: Child naming ceremony, wedding celebration, and yesterday I was lucky enough to see them perform in the grave leaving ceremony of the Ja Rai people.” “It’s so strange that the sound of gongs here seems to echo from the past, making my heart sob. It makes me feel like I’m in a sad or happy mood with each gong song, each type of gong, but I actually don’t understand what language they’re saying.” “You’re a native here, so you probably understand all that language, right? ?”. It was a pleasure to hear him share his feelings about gong culture, “But like you, I was not lucky enough to be born in a gong cultural environment. Suddenly, when I hear the sound of a gong, I feel fascinated.” strange, then I became addicted to the simple but strangely attractive syllable. Every time there was a festival, I came to admire the simplicity and simplicity of the farmers with their hands and feet covered in mud while playing the gongs. they are like true artists; Sometimes they play along to ancient gong songs, but at the climax, they perform the gong songs themselves to express their feelings… to do that, the drummer takes the lead like a conductor of a symphony. , all changes in rhythm and rhythm are controlled by him according to the beat of the drum…”. I thanked him for his love for Kon Tum, especially for his valid comments on Central Highlands gong culture.

It’s time to say goodbye and return to the city, after exchanging songs in different languages ​​by the groups to respond to the feelings of Kon Ko Tu villagers. The car had been running for a long time, but they still hadn’t left. Feeling the reluctance to break up even though they had only met for a few hours, had not yet exchanged necessary information, and were still hesitant to call each other by their names because of the language barrier between them. nation. Personally, I understand why they can linger like long-time relatives or friends who don’t want to leave. It can only be the magical sound of “gongs” that creates that miracle. Beyond ordinary spoken languages, the people of KonKôTu village gave them rare sincere feelings… which is exactly what they wanted to find on their experiential travel journey. Before saying goodbye, they held my hand and said: “Thank you and the villagers for giving us friendly and hospitable feelings. We will come back when we can…”.

I know that in the near future, there will certainly be many foreign tourists who will continue to come to Vietnam, the Central Highlands and Kon Tum to learn about and enjoy Central Highlands gongs. This is giving functional sectors, especially the Culture, Sports and Tourism sectors, new opportunities and challenges. As the French tourist commented in the Central Highlands cultural region, the truth is that gong culture is at risk of disappearing. The first manifestation is the narrowing of village cultural space. Many villages no longer retain the characteristics of a traditional ethnic minority village. Houses built in the form of Kinh people’s residence are located interspersed and chaotic among traditional stilt houses, breaking the inherent harmonious architecture, causing offense to visitors. That is not to mention the internal decay that is not easy to overcome: These are traditional rituals according to the customs and practices of each ethnic community in which gongs play an extremely important role. Therefore, the problem at this time is choosing which solution to preserve, inherit and promote the cultural value of gongs.

It is thought that, in parallel with the implementation of the plan to preserve the “Central Highlands gong cultural space”, the functional branches also need to develop a “strategy” to introduce gong culture to friends around the world. , especially foreign tourists who directly come to the “Central Highlands gong cultural space”, completely ending the situation of spontaneous introductions, with soulless commercial purposes, distorting the invaluable heritage. and this rarity of humanity. Perhaps this can also be considered one of the plans to preserve and promote this cultural heritage.

We hope that all levels and sectors will actively join hands to protect the “Central Highlands gong cultural space” forever worthy of the title: “Masterpiece of oral and intangible culture of humanity”.

Tuong Lam