The worship of ancestors and the festivals to welcome new crops typify the beliefs of the Kho Mu.
Like other ethnic groups, ancestral worship is central to the life of the Kho Mu. Kho Mu houses are similar to those of the Thai, but differ in their worship area.
In their 3-room or 5-room houses, they reserve their first room for ancestral worship and worship of the house’s ghosts.
The second room is the kitchen, where they worship the kitchen genie. Here they hold important family events, receive guests, and prepare daily meals and worship offerings.
The Kho Mu pray to their ancestors, genies, and ghosts for blessings and to pay their respect to supernatural power.
A Kho Mu man, Luong Van Binh, said, “We pray for good health and no misfortune, no mishap, no worry. At the new year holiday, we prepare 2 chickens for offering and pray to our ancestors to bless us with a good year.”
They prepare a chicken and a jar of alcohol for a ritual to see off the old year and inform their ancestors of what happened in the family during the year.
Another chicken and jar of alcohol is prepared for a ritual to pray for health, prosperity, good study, and good business in the new year. The worship area is where the souls of the ancestors connect with the living.
Lu Van Hoi said, “Our parents tell us to keep the tradition and conduct the rituals. We have to obey otherwise they will punish us. The ceremony is held at the end of the year to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new year.”
In addition to worshiping ancestors and the kitchen genie, the Kho Mu worship the genies of the mountain and brook, the ghosts of the terraced fields to allow them to grow a bumper crop, and other ghosts to keep them free from illness.
The Kho Mu believe that everything has a soul and that nature – the sky, the earth, and the terraced fields – are intertwined with each other and with people’s lives. The new crop ceremony reflects their belief in supernatural powers.
The ceremony includes worship of the house ghosts and the ancestors, a ceremony to honor rice and taro, a prayer for rain, and a community festival.
The Kho Mu’s worship reflects their philosophy of respecting and protecting nature and honoring their ancestors’ merit.