Chut people are singing at their “Filling the holes” ceremony. The name refers to sowing seeds into holes to begin a new crop. The ceremony site is close to the village at the forest’s edge.

Villagers prepare offerings and gather at the site on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.

The shaman reads the prayer “Forest ghosts, genies, and souls of the deceased! Today, on the 7thday of the 7th lunar month, the village holds a “Filling the hole” ceremony” with these humble offerings. We have rice grains, steamed sticky rice, pork, chicken, betel leaves, areca nuts, and flowers. On behalf of the villagers, I invite you to enjoy our offering. We ask you to chase away bad luck and bless us with good health, and good business in order to have a sufficient and happy life.”

The shaman then takes a handful of rice grains from the altar and throws them in four directions for the forest ghosts, genies, and souls of the deceased. After the ritual, they bring the offering to the shaman’s house to eat, sing, and dance together. Representatives of the local authorities, border gate soldiers, and other ethnic groups also attend the Chut’s “Filling the holes” ceremony.

Nguyen Tien Bao of Rao Tre hamlet says the ritual is simple but embodies a strong belief. “When we finish sowing seeds into the holes, we perform a ceremony to inform the genies and the deceased of our work and ask them for protection. We pray for lush fields, fruitful orchards, good health, good luck, and sufficiency.”

In the 11th lunar month, the Chut will hold a new rice ceremony following the harvest. In recent years, Chut people have abandoned bad habits such as drinking too much wine, hunting, and not making friends with people of other groups. With the support of local border guards, authorities, and the community, the lives of the Chut have improved. Their wood houses have been upgraded.

Colonel Vo Trong Hai of the Ha Tinh provincial Border Guard said “The border soldiers have helped the Chut increase their productivity. They used to depend on hunting and gathering food in the forest. We taught them Vietnamese, organized production, and a new lifestyle.”