The daily life Lu ethnic group in Lai Chau province has closely associated with the forest, so the Lu people have Cam Muong or forest worshipping ceremony to pray for favorable weather, good crops, and happiness and prosperous life.
The forest worshipping ceremony of the Lu is usually held twice a year, the first on the 3rd of the 3rd lunar month when the rice is about to bloom and the second on the 6th of the 6th lunar month when the harvest is completed. The ceremony often attracts the participation of all local villagers.
Offerings used in the ceremony include pigs, chickens, and wine, in which chicken and wine are contributed by each family, while pigs are bought together.
The person who is trusted by the villagers to preside over the ceremony is an elderly with a reputation in the community. Each family selects a male representative for participating in the forest worshipping rituals. Families having members passed away in year or men whose wives are pregnant or have just given birth are not allowed to participate in the rituals.
The Lu ethnic group accounts for about 5.3% of the population of Lai Chau province, and they mainly reside in Sin Ho and Tam Duong districts. The Lu people has a long, diverse and rich culture in which the Cam Muong ceremony is a typical folk rite.
Several pictures of the Cam Muong ceremony:
Offering tray includes food, wine and 18 green and yellow paper boats, representing colors of forests and rice plants.
Lu people do not use any musical instruments while performing rituals because according to them, those sounds will reduce sacredness.
Offerings are meant to proliferate in Cam Muong ceremony.
Ceremony is divided into four parts including rituals of god worshipping, prayers, Cam Muong and closing.
The ceremony’s shaman reads an introduction about history of Lu ethnic group and villages, reason for the ceremony and participants in ceremony.
Ritual of splashing water to wash away bad luck.
A Lu girl with most beautiful traditional costume to participate at the event.
Festive activities take place after ceremony including art performances and folk games such as stick pushing, tug of war, chicken badminton, etc.
A performance of local folk singing.
Stick pushing game.
In addition to stilt house architecture, weaving, custom of dyeing teeth black, etc., Cam Muong ceremony is part of the traditional culture of the Lu people as well as a community event, contributing to the community cohesion the cultural identity of Lu ethnic group.