Tiện ích

Thống kê truy cập

Revitalization of heritage - the original and variant traditional integration of the Het Cha festival in Ang Village in Moc Chau, Vietnam (Case study in Ang village, Moc Chau, Son La)

Tác giả: Đỗ Thị Thu Hà - Phạm Đặng Xuân Hương - Cập nhật: 02/10/2019


Het Cha festival organised by Tai people (in Ang village, Dong Sang, Moc Chau, Son La) is celebrated each year during Ban flower season. Ban flowers are unique flowers found in the North of Vietnam and they bloom annually at the end of March. This is a thanksgiving ceremony to send thankfulness to the shaman - the magician, the physician of the village, and for the shaman to send thankfulness to his gods. During festival time, in addition to the ritual of the worshipers expressing gratitude to the shaman for curing their diseases, there are entertaining performances around the sacred flowers (xang bok). After being suspended for nearly 40 years, Het Cha festival has been celebrated in recent years, and expanded in scale. It is now heavily promoted as a form of cultural tourism, which attracts hundreds of tourists and participants. Through the analysis of the process of re-establishing Het Cha festival, the article helps to point out the following arguments: 1. Het Cha festival - a hybrid folklore phenomenon in which the original traditional integration (first hand) and the variant traditional integration (second hand) have merged in many ways. 2.  The negotiation between tradition and ethnic mentality as a solution for Het Cha festival - a folklorimus which solves the religious problems occuring during daily life of local people.

Key words: Het Cha festival, revitalization of heritage, applied folklore


The ceremony of thanksgiving for one type of Thai shaman (called mo mun) is one of the common rituals of the Thai community in Vietnam. This festival, whether it is called Het Cha, Lau No, or Xang Khan, is a festival where the worshipers bring gifts to the mo to thank him for healing them, and where the mo sends thanks and honors to his gods. Het Cha - the name of the original festival is Mo mua - Kin chuong lieng - Kin chieng boac ma – Boac ban, was previously conducted for a few days, and the mo personally invited a handful of mo (the Lam) to help, thenhe invited several young, teenage couples (bao sao) to dance. During the festival the main mo’s soul travels to the spirit world and invites his master (the phi mun) to attend the ceremony. The phi Mun posesses the Lam to check the xang bok flower (Thai ceremonial flowers, see more Vo Thi Thuong [1], Do Thi Thu Ha [2]) to perform the folk plays, and the phi mun also possesses the mo mun to receive gifts from worshipers.

According to the records, Het Cha festival had begun in the Ang village atn the early nineteenth century and was celebrated annually until 1963. The festival was suspended until 2005 when it was revived. The opportunity of Het Cha, comes from the implementation of Resolution No. 5/1998 of Party committee of the 1st edition on "preserving the cultural identity of the White Thai ethnic group in Moc Chau" in 2005, and The Elderly Group in the Village is the main unit, which is responsible for collecting and selecting for revitalization (this reconstruction process can show partly through the following milestones: 1) 2005: first performance in the village; 2) September 2rd, 2007: official performance at Pine forest Lake in Ang village; 3) March 2008: Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Son La province censors and films saved at the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Son La province; 4) March 2009: Son La People's Committee was invited to participate in the "Tay Bac Ethnic Minority Culture Festival" in Lai Chau province organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, thenwon the second prize; 5) From September 2rd 2009 to March 2016: Het Cha is assigned by Moc Chau District People's Committee to perform twice each year on March 26 (Spring Festival) and September 2 (Independence’s day - Tay Bac ethnic culture festival); 6) June 8, 2015: Het Cha is decided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to be included in the list of national intangible cultural heritage; 7) March 26, 2016: Het Cha and the reception of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Certificate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; 8) March 26, 2017: Het Cha festival is held in the foot of sacred banyan tree of Ang village, where it is considered to have taken place before the original Het Cha festival by the reason: ensuring the original elements and increasing sacred for rituals). The process of restoration of Het Cha goes in line with the changes in concsiousness of the cultural role of the Commusist Party and the Government (Resolution No. 5/1998) with the principle of "building and developing the advanced Vietnamese culture, with a bold national identity". The above-mentioned conditions have allowed the restoration and displaying of the cutural factors of the locals. The revitalization of Het Cha is subjected to satisfy the needs of the local authorities in the process of seeking and promoting the cutural practices, which carry out the representative traits of the minorities living in Son La province. Those traits are exclusively performed in the annual festivals targeting at cultural exchanges and ethic reconciliation. With the revitalization of the festivals as well as the demands of the locals in seeking within the tradition the cutural practices of the Thai for identifying who they really are. Het Cha does not only take place in Ang village every year during the Ban flower season, but the festival is also carried out in many places - as a demonstration of Thai identity. The revitalizartion of heritages is attached to a process of restoration and labelling of heritages for cultural practices.

This process requires a meticulous collection to warrantee the authenticity for a cutural phenomenon, which has been interrupted.  And this process of revitalization and labelling of heritages is also a reason, which causes the threats for the existences of the heritages. Regarding the threats in more details, the first one refers to the community and the role of the subjects of the community in the process of heritage revitalization and promotion of their own (Salemink [3]; Nguyen Chi Ben [4]; Ngo Duc Thinh [5]; Nguyen Van Huy [6]; Luong Hong Quang [7]); especially, the community subjects, which have been empowered or merginalization in the practicing heritages (Salemink [8]). The second one related to invention of tradition (Hobsbawm & Ranger [9]), folklorization (Salemink [8]), commercialization (Evans [10]; Le Hong Ly & Nguyen Phuong Cham [11]).

From a theoretical point of view, Het Cha is a successful case of heritage revitilization, with the host community being empowered and tasked of staying true to tradition and fusing it with modern practices to ensure that the festival is celebrated in a meaningful way. With this festival, it can be said first hand and second hand have merged in many aspects. But, since being revitalized in the context of community tourism that re-establishes traditional cultural elements as a 'cultural branding', in 2018 Het Cha has become a 'spiritual problem' for which the community still cannot find a reasonable solution. Based on the case study ralated to revitalization of religious heritages (Het Cha festival), this paper aims at three issues. The first one is how the contemporary life has put new cover and functions on the traditions and heritages after the revitalization. The second is how to solve the religious problems caused after the revitalization of the religion-related heritages. The third one is about the heritage and how to maintain the practices of the heritages when the religious problems are occuring promptly at the moment.

Revitalization of heritage type associated with spirituality - opportunity, risk and  consequence

Ritual and festive studies in Vietnam since the 1990s have shown a pattern of revitalization and development of traditional culture, particularly traditional festivals and religious beliefs (Malarney [12]; Endres [12]; Nguyen Thi Hien [13]; Truong Huyen Chi & Luong Van Hy [14]; Le Hong Ly & Nguyen Thi Phuong Cham [11]). In addition to portraying a particular aspect of Vietnam's context after renovation, these studies also pointed out the advantages, challenges, successes, and failures of revitalization and conservation of heritage.

From a cultural point of view, Vietnamese Renovation (1986) opens up  opportunities for national culture, especially for the ethnic minority communities. After a long period of vitality gathering for the wars of national independence and unification, after a short period of time for the find-and-test-fail and change of policies on both economy and culture, Vietnam after renovation became a vibrant market in all respects. Together with the program "A decade of the world for cultural development 1988-1997" of Unesco (Unesco's "World Decade for Cultural Development 1988-1997" has four goals: recognise the cultural dimension of development; affirm and enrich cultural identity; increase participation in cultural activities; promote international cooperation on culture" (Declaration of the International Decade for Cultural Development, A/RES/41/187, 8/12/1986, 100th Plenary Session of the General Assembly United Nations) (Do Thi Minh Thuy [16; p.8-9]), contemporary ideas on culture are "institutionalized in state documents" (Nguyen Chi Ben [17; p.6]), about the peak is Resolution No. 5/1998 with the principle of "building and developing the advanced Vietnamese culture, with a bold national identity" " (see Do Thi Minh Thuy [18]; Nguyen Chi Ben [17]); has provided a great opportunity for the resurgence and development of cultural heritage that has been interrupted or non-existed publically. Tradition is reborn and preserved, not only for "strengthening the common sense of national identity" (Endres [13]), which is more rational and macroscopic, calculates to "find a place for the Vietnam on the world stage" (Meeker [19; p.535]).

In addition, when the Kinh ethnic’s culture policies were applied, ethnic minority communities reveal more and more significant consequenses, in addition to the risk of losing cultural diversity among ethnic groups, the efforts to restore and preserve the heritage are stronger than ever. However, the revitalization, preservation of what, andwho is the decider in the process, and how to create a relatively original environment for cultural practices are always problems in all circumstances.

According to Le Hong Ly et al. [20], the risk and consequences of revitalization and preservation of heritage associated with selective conservation perspectives in Vietnam are manifested through two universal approaches, which are the "invention the tradition" and the "folklorization". This point of view has led some folklore practices to get seperation from the traditional media environment. Thus, this leads to the change or lost of culture (Salemink [3]). In addition, there is a strong impact of the market economy (Nguyen Thi Phuong Cham [21]); changes on natural environment and the structure of plants that promote the ritual of traditional rituals (Salemink [3]); the effects of tourism on the "commercialization" of cultural practices, which threaten cultural destruction if it was developed solely on the basis of pure commercial interests (Evans [10]) (Le Hong Ly et al., [20; p.14-15]).

Revitalizing of Het Cha - empowerment and increasing power to the cultural subject

The process of revitalizing as well as the organization model, the management of the Het Cha festival in Ang village is a product of a group of of indigenous artists, the "living treasures" of Ang village in Dong Sang. District cultural officers are always accompanied by local experts during the process of revitalization, and there are absolutely no forced or adjusted scripts for personal or government purposes. Cultural subjects are given autonomous rights to practice their own traditional culture.

Like the revitalization of other festivals, Het Cha revitalization requires elaborate and thorough research to have a "relatively substantial" appearance. After having been suspended for nearly 40 years, the revitalization of the festival was very difficult, with the main mo (Vi Van Hon) and the assistant mo died. It all relied on the memory of those who have participated in this festival (still very young at that moment), and the verification, connected with the memories of the elders who participated in the festival in various villages the past.

From the handwritten manuscripts, it is possible to visualize the progress of the recovery process of Het Cha: collecting (recording from retrospective documents of old people, mo) - revitalizing (rehearsing the festival in front of experts and the mo, noting the procedures and rituals that are necessary in order to re-introduce it to the village whereas staying true to tradition) – add to, edit - gradually improve (please note that this process is still ongoing, after 12 years of performance, since the first performance in the village).  

The biggest challenge with revitalization is that Het Cha is a spiritual festival. This festival is associated with the mo work, thesacred work assigned by the Tai spirits. It is also associated with the mo mun, who specializes in treating souls, preserving souls of Tai people; with rituals related to the spirit world to sponsor the village (in the Thai community of Moc Chau, there are three kinds of mo: mo mương (worshiping the village, praying for the rain, the peace bridge); mo hieu (offerings  dead souls); mo mun (healing treatment). Rehearsing rituals, carrying out the standard process of rituals, standardizing/documenting the offerings/prayers, searching for and using sacred objects... are not easy tasks. Revitalization is only possible amongst those with Thai blood, as they have a desire ingrained in them for their religious practices to be restored. Typical example is artisan Hoang Van Xuyen, who is responsible for the collection, revitalization of the Het Cha. He is also the third generation of the most famous artisan in the area; Mr. Hoang Van Chom; Ms. Lu Thi Phan, the grandchildren of Phang Cha, who have been selected as maids of honor for many years in the house of their grandfather, should have belonged and still remember many ceremonial and ceremonial songs. They also take pride in a "tradition belonging to themselves"; and in the profession. Finally, they have the passion of a mo muong who owns a unique musical flute (mo pi). Mo muong is also the only one with skill to play it. The flute is the soul of the festival, and without the flute, there is no Het Cha festival.

The flute is the soul of the Het Cha Festival, because it is spiritual music, shaman music invited gods to enter, the music to heal. Blowing this flute is very difficult because it is a flute of the reed. It could not be blown outside but need to be played by using the breath in the mouth, then the flute inserts into the new mouth blown. This flute has a very special sound, almost like the sound of the flute, but louder. The flute is a special way for Tai people to communicate with the divine world.

                                                   (Interviewed documentation on 27/12/2017)

This particular "soul" brings a unique character to Het Cha. Only the flute, with different rhythms according to a convention of the content of each class, is enough to ensure that Het Cha has a distinctive style, carrying the spirit of community and sacred characteristics, which was created out of the "air of pure faith" (Malinowski, 1954) towards the divine Thai world.

The District cultural officers  who have cooperated with the host community for the revitalization of this festival help the government officers to understand the need to respect traditional practices and heritage of Thai people. Without this respect, the heritage of the Thai people might not be accurately represented and the future of the festival will be in difficulty. The district cultural officers understand the ceremony, recognize each wrong verse, and each flute beat, and they make suggestions for correction, never impose their opinions on Thai people, because "Het Cha is theirs". The way and story from these culturists also shows a spiritual belief in the Tai spirits and gravity from the Thai worldview. Those working towards revitalization, and even the district cultural officers involved in the process, are all chosen by Thai spirits to do this work.

Het Cha exists as it is today as a result of the desire and efforts of Thai people themselves coupled with the support of the government to preserve the culture, embrace and showcase its identity with an effort to develop strong community tourism. The past memory revitalization and revitalization work has been handed over to those whom the culture belongs to. As Salemink already said: the people who live in that culture are the real experts on their cultures (Salemink [3; p.211]). The reproduction is closest to the origin when placed in the original cultural environment; operated with your own rhythm inside the space itself, not somewhere else, or by outsiders who have no ownership but claim to the culture.

The consequences of desacridization and negotiation-oriented changes 

After the official performance from 2007 until now, the festival was held every year on stage in Ang village. It has even been celebrated at more locations than just at Ang village. There was a team of artisans to make Cha/ xoe Cha in Ang village to carry out these tasks. Theoretically, it is possible to call it a simulated folklore phenomenon; it means a "folklore out of context" phenomenon, or a "fake folklore" (Bendix, 1989, cited by Ngo Duc Thinh and Frank Proschan [22]). This term (folklorismus) is used to refer to folk material that impresses with visual and auditory or aesthetic delight such as costumes, festivals, music or art (including dishes). Appropriate materials that can be separated from their original context and used in a new way for other public groups, (usually larger) in line with the context of contemporary life (Moser, 1962; Bendix, 1989, cited by Ngo Duc Thinh and Frank Proschan [22]) all fall under the label of simulated folklore. According to some researchers, the current trend of festival revitalization of tourism festivals is taking place everywhere based on the material of simulated folklore. Therefore, this is a special type of culture that plays an important role in the spiritual life of people, especially in the mountainous areas (Tran Huu Son [23]).

However, this approach has changed the style of expression into simplifying the meaning and aesthetics of cultural heritage (Salemink [3]); even creating a "desacralized" heritage, breaking the traditional structure, and contributing to the decline of active participation of the community in cultural practices (Le Hong Ly et al., [20]).

These restrictions are not unfamiliar to the Het Cha. Many conflicts, changes, and differences between the choices of old or new, true or false can be seen in this revitalized festival.

With the passing by of time, the indifference of the community subjects is increasing. The direct religious needs (for the worshipers to bring gifts to the mo to thank shaman and his gods for healing them) are not the main purposes of the festival. This is only a festival of the folklorization. Basically, there is no mun shaman healing the worshippers in the village.

From this observation, there are transfers and space-related negotiations at the Het Cha revitalization. This could be seen through the sacred space of the mo mun with the hinh mun altar (where worship mo (phi mun)). It could also expressed with the sacred artifacts (khot bag, swords, flute ...). This space is assumed to support the shaman to have help or incarnate, exit the body in the practice; to the pine forest or to the large courtyards (ideal for large spaces, which can accommodate a larger group of people, including important tourist groups). The idea of khot should be explained by the image of a special bag which the Thai shaman put their sacred artifacts in, such as the stone he made in an unusual situation, may be the fangs of boars, bones of the foot, black chicken legs etc. They are very diverse, but they all have the same characteristics: quarter - strange - rare. The mo keeps and protects his pocket like saving his own life. Moreover, Het Cha is also performed in other Thai villages, far from Ang village, and is performed as a bright spot of identity. Thus, the notion of a sacred space is clearly amplified in terms of amplitude in a flexible way. In the past, human beings could have come to the space of the gods when Het Cha was performed in that space, and the sacredness was established by the presence of sacred objects and worship rituals. Now, gods can go down the space that Het Cha comes along with human beings, even on trips away from Ang village. Thai minds have changed. It is also believed that the minds of gods are also changing.

In the past, to organize Het Cha, the celebration of a good day in the Thai calendar will be chosen by the "phi mun". Now, for the purpose of developing tourism, to get  more convenient for communication, March 24-25 is set aside for Het Cha. There is no longer worry about considering the Thai solar calendar. In the past, the gods decided the day of the festival, and now the decision is made by the current cultural carriers with concerns of combining tradition with modern life.

The tendency to save, and to simplify the content and meaning of the festival has "desacralized" many objects and ceremonial rituals e.g. Xang Cha - the Tet pole, sacred flowers of the festival, before making new Cha, the new tree (usually every three years). Every time the mo came to the help of the teacher, he brings a single tree, now only a flower, ready to be kept in the Cultural House during each festival and each time the tour brings to use. Divine spirits appear many times and go many places but there is still only one flower on the modern celebration day. Mam cung Cha and ceremonial tools of the previous mo mun besides the iron sword, the Areca spathe, the coin bag (tong dam - black coin), and many other items are required to protect him against evil spirits during the ceremony. Now, these sacred items are not many, or are just symbolic artifacts. The sacredness of the ritual is somewhat reduced. And human insecurities, along with worry about the "Cha Ghost's dissatisfaction" are concerns always arise each festival season.

In past Het Cha festivals, there was the presence of mo - a mom un of house owner (mun Enh) and lam (mo inside and outside the village) to help complete the ceremony. They played the flute, listened to the requirements of The phi mun. They even use their own body as a place for The phi mun to choose to live. Now in Het Cha, on the stage there are five mo, but only one is a real mo (belong to mo tay, mo muong of Muong’s people, not mo mun). The remaining four artists act as a mo just like actors in movies. These "actors" help to ensure the timing and scripting of the festival, the performance of the sacred offerings and the selection of the most interesting folk songs/ performances over the course of a 2-hour celebration, whereas the original Het Cha can last from two to four days ...

Compassion comes in all respects, partly because of the reason and limitation from the reality of life, partly because the human mind has changed a lot, although the faith is still intact. The new life context forces the inheritance and, in some parts, the divinity itself needing to change to adapt to the new human and living environment.

Omens, rumors, losses, and risks - the religious problems occuring during heritage revitalization

A legacy has led to many negative reactions and once again, the concept of tradition has become the center of controversy and attention. The questions could be raised: Are these Thai people gradually losing their traditional culture? How can it be called "tradition" when it is "diluted"?

In the mind, "tradition" is always envisioned as "characteristic", "fixed", "invariant" cultural values. Simply identifying, "tradition" is always seen as an identity card, from which and through which subject and identity are determined. Research from the reality of anthropologists can help to realize that there is no fixed "culture" and "tradition" or type of fixed frame to get a glimpse of it, so we can easily differentiate this person to that person, one community to another. Modernization, globalization together with the throne and conquest of life of science and technology has created an optimal environment for cultural contacts, transformations and changes. "Hybridization is one aspect of the general process of social and cultural change in all cultures. We should remember that there are no pure, unchanged traditional cultures" (Evans [10; p.277]). Thus, in his study, Salemink (2001) proposed using "construction of tradition" instead of "invention of tradition" in the sense that  tradition and culture  are constantly being (re)constructed in a changing situation . In other words,  there is no "zero point", an original, fixed tradition that is gradually being replaced by global culture (Salemink [3; p.205]).

The "tradition" is diluted not only by the internal changes themselves, but also by the needs of the hybrid community and other cultural elements. Those come from outside. The problem lies in the fact that the community itself wants. Thus, it needs to do so. As such, with heritage, what matters is the empowerment and increasing power of the cultural subject, because the new community is the one who determines what the heritage will look like. This has been addressed by cultural and heritage researchers, as attempts have been made in Vietnam to "try to stop the effects of time" on the heritage (Salemink [3]; Evans [10]; Le Hong Ly et al., [20]). Lessons to be learned from researchers and managers indicate that the preservation of culture is a "frozen form" (Evans [10; p. 277]).

The preservation in a museum should be replaced by the efforts to "create favourable conditions for the expressions and performance of their culture" (Salemink [3; p.207]), and continue to "study the preservation practices of heritage specific culture as well as challenges in the context of modernization" (Le Hong Ly et al., [20]). Legacy is not fixed and invariable. It is a living entity, like a swimming fish in water, because "culture is ever-changing because the culture-carriers find themselves in changing circumstances and find new ways to cope with their situation" (Salemink [3; p.206]).

Researching about Het Cha over the past few years, we have realized that there is a "new Het Cha" that is living its own life in Tai cultural rhythm here. It is not just the restoration and performance of a folklorimus festival on a fixed day each year, but also a Het Cha "story", with many ups and downs, fluctuations, and changes. It associates with the human condition and communal fate vividly.

Het Cha is a festival of spiritual belief that reflects the pure white Tai faith in the Then, Phi, and To Mo (mo's spirits) above the sky to help people overcome the life’s obstacles. These beliefs are reflected in the performance of rituals and in the full preparation of gifts and sacred artifacts. The festival was restored but no longer exists in the original space (at shaman’s house) as inherent. Simulation and performance are hidden here and there, but the soul of Het Cha is still mostly intact. It represents the need to reproduce, preserve and maintain the human traditions towards the shaman/ physician of village, who is keeping the peace of human life in the village. Finally, there is also a need to reproduce and enjoy the folk art performances of Xoe Cha, Cha drama. Through one of the field trips, we saw the scene of this ceremony, the artisans performing the Xoe Cha on the festival stage, on the other side, separating a brick and tile from a 7-8 old girl dancing from the drums and going from far away. And above all, in the Het Cha it is an integral and pure belief towards the spiritual world. This belief, which has been established in the past and in the mind, is now linked to the present through mystical stories. Every year, heavy rains before or after Het Cha are a certain sign of satisfaction and agreement from gods that the festival goes well and honored tradition. Livelihoods have changed, many households in Ang village have moved from farming to tourism businesses. The number of visitors arriving here during the festival season in recent years, gives confidence to the belief that the gods are happy even though things have changed. There is now a focus on tourism rather than farming.

The belief in Het Cha and the gods is also confirmed by omens, rumors, and contemporary spiritual accounts about Cha ghosts wrestling/causing damage to human beings, or Cha ghost's anger when being picked up everywhere but no place to live. This is the reason used to explain the risks that come with the festival every every year. The fate of those, who have made merit or participation in the performance of Het Cha, is connected with the dissatisfaction of the deva and the gods because the ritual is not prepared as it should be. Therefore, the ceremony has become more cautious, calibrated and more dense over the years. By 2018, "the will of the gods" has almost been realized, according to a psychological and spirit logic of life.

When looking for a place to live, Cha ghost to "be worshiped" and "not abandoned along the way", the plan was for the main shaman of the village (also the main worshipers in the Het Cha ceremony) to be selected by the gods. Then he performs in the procession incense foot (means the mo mun ancestors in Ang village, Vi Van Hon), the sacred tools used to make Cha from the descendants of the ten to worship near the banyan tree foot in the village (ten is the sacred space where Thai people in some where to worship gods or historical figures relatives are closely associated with the village). This was ten worship for martyrs who died during the French-Vietnamese war; worshiping the first people who came to live in this village and worshiping the sacred banyan tree of the village. Since 2016 until present day, rituals related to the Het Cha have been carried out at ten. Not only focusing on the festival for Cha ghost when the festival in the village, each performance Het Cha in other spaces, the ritual offerings to welcome and return for phi mun, Cha ghost are also very well done (there are  three incence burners placed on the altar of worship to Cha ghost: one for the phi mun (ghost master of mo mun); one for Cha ghost (the first gods perform Cha in the village); one for Mr. Hoang Van Xuyen who have collection and revitalization Het Cha). After more than 10 years of performing Het Cha, Thai people in Ang village are convinced that it does not only relate to the shamans, and to the phi mun( ghost master of mo mun) to Cha ghost (the first gods perform Cha in the village), but that their festival has touched and committed to a spiritual system of the village. The narrow space in the tradition of Het Cha (in the mo mun’s house) when transfer to the sacred banyan tree of the village which already expanded system of patronage gods (and penalties). Present in the Het Cha ceremony is not only the phi mun but also the spirit of the mountain, patronage gods, banyan tree, the gods sponsor the village, and the souls related to the Het Cha.

Thus, there has been a change, a function supplement of ceremonies and festivals in the new practice space. From a professional festival - thanksgiving to the shaman, in the range of some small individuals (the shaman and his worshiper) turned into a communal thanksgiving (thanks to the shaman, the gods and pray for peace in a new year). Traditional elements have been used as key material/resources to re-structure the festival. The transformation of that feature, which can be seen clearly in the move of the festive space in 2017, is from the Ang's pine forest to the Ang’s banyan tree foot. This is considered as a sacred restoration of the sacred space of the festival because of the multifaceted origins, which mark many of the great historical events of the village, and many shamans have performed important rituals for the village here! This space movement reveals a change from broad space (Ang’s pine forest is very favorable for tourism promotion) to deep space (banyan area, narrow and deep in the village) - where indigenous peoples have the opportunity to participate more directly, in order to experience their own heritage more deeply - an effective way of linking tourism and development with the past and people’ thinking. This legacy must be associated with its master, and be associated with the space where it exists.

The first year of revitalizing the festival at the of banyan tree foot, the people in the village are happy. Everybody says that it is better to make Het Cha at the banyan tree because it is the area of ​​their relation, this land is her own land, her ancestors here! Going forest pine just for travel.

(Interview local people, March 24, 2017)


In the Het Cha festival at the end of March 2018 there were only two artisans performing on the stage - a flute-player and a roleplayer acting as the Lam and khap Cha. The main performer who participated in the stage performance was the village's shaman, who did not even participate in the process of revitalizing the Het Cha, and has never performed Het Cha. However, shaman always feels anxious about the spirit of the village and of this revitalization festival. She arranges spiritual matters originated from the festival on her own, from the making of sacrifices to the changing of worship space for Cha ghost, from the soul cure and worship the soul to solve spiritual problems for the people of Ang village daily to worship xen ban xen muong (on January 15th each year) and thanksgiving celebrate to the village's gods (on the 16th of December at the end of every year). The sacred space created and the sacred ritual, which she presided over have gradually blurred together losing their individuality, creating the consensus response of residents in the village.

Therefore, the questions related to festival revitalization and attraction maintainance have been moved to new problems. This is the relationship between revitalization and maintainance of annual heritage practices with the threats of spiritual security from the perspective of community subjects. One threat is the livelihood security, healthcare, lives and engagement with ancestors. In other words, the products of folklorization, which have been desacralized, have  become the phenomenon of special religious practices. It appears as if performance. However, basically, it still carries out the sense of reformation and refers the human concerns about the immediate matters in the daily lives.

Every year, there is a new version of Het Cha. 2018's Het Cha was different from 2017's Het Cha, and 2019's Het Cha will also be different. No one can anticipate specific changes, but it is certain that this spiritual festival will fix and heal itself the problems that the people of Ang village had over the last year. Het Cha is a proof of the vitality and incessant innovation of culture. Subjects here are creating Het Cha own heritage, determining what it is and how it should be. Heritage is constantly changing, because it is practiced from the needs of that cultural subjects, and from the need to demonstrate heritage as an identity to those from other cultures. Thus, on the way Salemink has said, the looks of Het Cha, either in the past or present - will be only a quick note at a precise moment in time!


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Tóm tắt

Lễ Hết Chá của người Thái (tại Bản Áng, Đông Sang, Mộc Châu, Sơn La) được tổ chức hàng năm vào mùa hoa ban nở (ngày 24, 25 tháng 3 dương lịch). Đây là lễ tạ ơn thầy mo – thầy cúng, thầy thuốc của dân bản. Trong lễ hội, ngoài phần nghi lễ của các con nuôi bày tỏ lòng biết ơn với thầy mo đã chữa khỏi bệnh cho mình, còn có phần diễn xướng vui nhộn và hài hước diễn ra xung quanh cây hoa thiêng (xang bok). Sau một quãng thời gian gián đoạn, lễ hội này những năm gần đây đã được tổ chức trở lại, mở rộng hơn về quy mô và được quảng bá như một hình thức du lịch văn hóa, thu hút khá đông du khách tới tham gia. Qua việc phân tích quá trình tái lập lễ Hết Chá, bài viết đưa ra các lập luận: 1. Lễ hội Hết Chá - một hiện tượng folklore mô phỏng mà ở đó, truyền thống nguyên bản (first hand) và truyền thống biến thể (second hand) đã hòa nhập vào nhau trên nhiều phương diện. 2. Thương thỏa với truyền thống và tâm thức tộc người như một giải pháp để lễ hội Hết Chá có thể giải quyết các bài toán tâm linh nảy sinh trong đời sống cư dân bản địa đương đại.

Từ khóa: Lễ hội Hết Chá, tái sinh di sản, folklore ứng dụng


HNUE Journal of Science, Social Sciences, 2018, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp.169-179.

Cập nhật: 02/10/2019 - Lượt xem: 280

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