“Cap sac” is a ceremony to certify a man as a shaman, who can then perform worship rituals and is protected by genies. Only men are allowed to become shamans. Phu Lao San in Quang Binh district said Pa Then men have to study worship rituals for a long time before they are qualified to undergo a “cap sac” ceremony. There are two types of certification: as a disease teller or as a shaman.
San said, “It’s our group’s custom that a man must have a “cap sac” ceremony to become a shaman. This informs the ancestors and gets their consent. The master of the prospective shaman chooses a good day and the man’s family prepares the ceremony.”
The family prepares a set of black clothes for the master and a set for the man undergoing the “cap sac” ceremony. The costume includes accessories such as headbands, necklaces, bracelets, and belts. Other items for the “cap sac” ceremony include money, wine, pork, rice and chicken.
Tan Hung Vuong of Ta Ngao hamlet said, “A “cap sac” ceremony certifies a man’s ability to protect and save people. We teach young children to they understand and preserve the ceremony.”
In the main ritual, the master guides his disciple through many procedures to inform the genies and ask their permission to allow the disciple to become a shaman or disease teller. The master asks the genies to give his disciple a seal, subordinates, and good fortune. After the “cap sac” ceremony, the master organizes two further ceremonies to thank the genies and the ancestors.
During each New Year Festival, the disciple must visit his master’s house to congratulate him and give him a gift of pork and wine. When the master dies, the disciple observes the same mourning as the master’s children.
Ta Thi Hong Loan, Vice Chairwoman of Tan Thinh Communal People’s Committee of Quang Binh district, said, “Tan Thinh commune respects the culture of the Pa Then, particularly the “cap sac” ceremony. We have programs to preserve and promote this culture.”
“Cap sac” is the most important ritual of the Pa Then. The subject of the “cap sac” ceremony has to sit on the worship platform for 2 days before he can go with his master to conduct other worship services.