The Co Tu people lead a life centered around rice cultivation and other agricultural practices. As their mountainous and forested homeland poses challenges for rice farming, they hold a deep reverence for their crops and pray for bountiful harvests of rice and corn. After each season’s end, they gather for a ceremony that marks the conclusion of one growing cycle and the commencement of the next.

According to Briu Po, the patriarch of Lang commune in Quang Nam province, “The 10th month of the lunar calendar is when the rice ripens. Each village dedicates a day during this period to celebrate the new rice harvest.”

Traditionally, the Co Tu harvested rice only once a year. A successful harvest brought immense joy after a year of arduous labor, prompting them to perform a ritual where offerings were presented to deities and prayers were made for health, prosperity, and favorable weather conditions for future harvests.

The new rice celebration encompasses both a ritual and a festival. For the ritual, the Co Tu erect a Neu bamboo tree, believed to possess the power to ward off evil spirits. Young and old, male and female, unite in preparing for the festive occasion, with the buffalo sacrifice ceremony holding a central place in the festivities. The buffalo plays a vital role in their daily lives and is offered on all significant occasions.

Specific individuals are assigned the task of preparing an assortment of dishes for the sacrificial offering. Men assume the responsibility of grilling or steaming fish, pork, and chicken, filling bamboo tubes with rice, and pouring liquor into vases. Women meticulously prepare spices for each dish, cook sticky rice, boil cassava, corn, and potatoes, craft a flavorful soup, and fry vegetables. Their aim is to prepare an abundance of food to feed the many participants.

“The scale of the new rice celebration varies based on the resources available to each village and hamlet. A buffalo, cow, or goat is indispensable for the ceremony, along with the erection of a Neu tree in the village yard. Esteemed village elders lead the ceremony and, on behalf of the community, beseech heaven and earth to bless them with a bountiful harvest,” explains Bh’ling Phat, the head of Por’ning village in Lang commune.

The Co Tu ethnic people perform the folk dance Tung Tung da da to celebrate the new rice harvest. (Photo:

The ritual is followed by a communal feast that marks the onset of the festival. The participants engage in traditional Co Tu dances, such as the Tung Tung da da, and sing songs of joy to welcome the new harvest.   

The new rice celebration serves as a unifying force, bringing together all members of the village and fostering a sense of community. Patriarch Briu Po further elaborates, “As people perform the Tung Tung da da dance and play drums and gongs, women adorn themselves in their finest attire. The festival also features an array of traditional games, including hitting the center of a spinning wheel, high jumping, and javelin-throwing.”

The new rice ceremony stands as a testament to the Co Tu’s rich cultural heritage, expressing their aspirations for a life of prosperity and strengthening their bonds after a year of dedicated labor.