(VOV) - According to the customs of the Muslim Cham people in Binh Thuan Province, after finishing a burial ceremony, the family of the deceased holds a worshipping ritual (“phathi” in the Cham language) at home for three consecutive days.
The first day is called “Dau Van”, the second is “Tak Ku Bau Yau” (buffalo-killing ritual), and the third day is “Po Non” (the seeing-off ritual). The offerings for the weekly ritual include two buffaloes, one tonne of rice, as well as fish, betel, areca, sugar, and other food items.
The rituals are conducted by a Chief Priest who reads prayers along with the “muftis” (Islamic priest). The villagers who attend the rituals will help the family erect a “chank” (shack) for worshipping. After the burial ceremony in the morning, the family holds the “Dau Van” ritual at 4-5pm with simple offerings such as rice and chickens.
The next day, the buffalo-killing ritual is held. Two pits, 40-50cm deep, are dug in front of the owner’s house, then two buffaloes are killed, their legs are tied and each is put into a pit. The offerings for the buffalo-killing ritual include two trays of food with a sword, a bundle of tree branches and a pot of water. After prayers are read, the muftis go to the pits, each holding a sword and a tree branch. They read several prayers to begin the buffalo-killing. After the ritual, the villagers cook and feast on the buffalo meat. For a family with financial difficulties, fish replaces the buffaloes.
“Po Non” is the ritual to see off the soul of the deceased. At 5 am, all the muftis are invited to read prayers under the direction of the priest, while the relatives of the deceased go into the “chank” to pray for the deceased to rest in peace. They pile the deceased’s clothes a metre high, along with baskets of fruit, cakes and candy in front of the “chank” to send to the soul off properly. In this ritual, the children, brothers or uncles of the deceased who have passed “akrak” (people who have proven they know the Koran by heart) will read some passages to Allah for the deceased’s salvation. After praying, the muftis lead the procession, saying prayers while walking, followed by the deceased’s next-of-kin and relatives. When the group carrying the offerings arrives at the crossroads, the muftis stop to say some prayers to finish the ceremony.
Two days after this ritual, the deceased’s next-of-kin go to the river to look for two round stones weighing 20-50kg and invite the muftis to use magic to place the stones at the two ends of the grave. This custom has been practiced since ancient times to prevent wild animals from digging up the body. The size of the stones depends on the age of the deceased. The older the deceased, the bigger the stone is. The graves of the Cham Ba Ni ethnic people are neither too high nor made of brick, they only have two stones at either end. The cemeteries of the Muslim Cham Ba Ni people are mostly situated on sand dunes.
This sacred ritual is one of the ceremonies of the Cham Ba Ni ethnic community. It still retains the specific characteristics of the daily activities of the Muslims, which provides a fascinating window into the cultural tradition of southcentral Vietnam.