The ceremony acknowledges the primary importance of rice and prays the deities to bless the people with happiness, good weather, and a bumper crop. At the 2019 Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival in Dak Lak province, the new rice ceremony of the M’nong Gar was recreated for the benefit of the tourists.
The M’nong consider the new rice ceremony to be the most important event of the year. They consider rice to be the soul of all things and worship rice as an honored deity. They also worship the Jade Emperor and the deities of river, mountain, rain, thunderstorm, and agriculture for blessing them with good crops.
Before the ceremony, they decorate their granary with flowers and whittle bamboo into the shape of rice plants to persuade the soul of the rice to remain in the granary.
Each villager contributes something to the offering, which includes three large jars of alcohol, a chicken, a pig, a woodstove, farm tools, rice varieties, and seedlings of other plants, and a tall bamboo pole called the Neu tree, which is believed to ward off evil spirits. A worship ritual for the deities is held under the Neu tree, and a ceremony to pray for abundant new rice and good health for the villagers is conducted at the granary.
Following these rituals, the patriarch and other villagers eat, drink, and dance throughout the night to the sound of gongs.
At the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, ethnic groups performed their typical rituals and introduced their musical instruments.
“A highlight of the Festival was the new rice ceremony of the M’nong Gar. We organized many activities to preserve and promote the cultures of the local ethnic groups, such as donating new gongs, making new clothes, and organizing gong classes. Artisans from Dak Phoi commune came to the festival to introduce their new rice ceremony,” said Dang Gia Duan, Deputy Director of the Dak Lak provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
Coinciding with the Coffee Festival, an Elephant Festival was held in Krong Na commune, where tourists enjoyed an elephant race and elephants playing football. The New Rice Ceremony and the Elephant Festival create a bond of unity among the ethnic groups while simultaneously promoting their cultural diversity.