It took the delegation almost one day to travel from the centre of Thuan Chau District to the border commune of Co Ma. It was the last day of the eleventh lunar month, which is the New Year’s Eve according to the H’mong people’s calendar. H’mong people observe Tet festival one month ahead of the majority of Kinh people.
The delegation stayed at house of Thao A Dung. Dung said that H’mong people begins preparations for Tet festival at the end of the eleventh lunar month, when they complete the harvest of rice and corn.
No matter if they are rich or poor, every H’mong family makes ‘pe plau’ (round glutinous rice cake) and steamed glutinous rice as offerings to their gods and ancestors.
In the traditional beliefs of the H’mong people, the round ‘pe plau’ cake symbolises the sun and the moon, which form the origin of human beings and all things on the earth. The cake also represents the loyalty in love of H’mong couples.
To prepare for the making of the cake, locals start with making mortar and pestle from a log of wood, which should be hard and fragrant.
A lot of time and effort is required to make the cake. The rice is carefully selected from the best harvest and steamed twice before being processed. It is then pounded in the mortal until it turns into a smooth sticky paste. The longer it is pounded in the mortal, the tastier the cake will become.
The paste is finally shaped into rounds and placed on the dried banana leaves. A typical tray of offerings for Tet banquet of H’mong people includes ‘pe plau’ cakes, a rooster, and pork. The cake is often grilled over hot coal to serve diners.
A H’mong ethnic man in Co Ma Commune preparing to paste pieces of paper to the serrated edge of his labour tools (Photo: danviet.vn)
On the last day of the old year, family members redecorate their houses and altar. They also clean their daily labour tools and paste pieces of paper on their serrated edges before placing them under the altar. H’mong people believe that labour tools have a “soul” and after a year of hard working on the rice and corn fields, they should take a rest.
By ribboning the tools, the H’mong people aim to pay gratitude to the tools for their support over the past year.
During the week-long Tet celebration, Linh Trang had an opportunity to take part in assorted cultural activities and exciting folk games, including “pao” (cloth ball) throwing, stick pushing, and tug of war.
Of which, ‘pao’ throwing is a popular community folk game of the H’Mong people. The game is an opportunity for young men and women to meet each other and make friends.