Ancestor worship, a sacred rite of the Lo Lo in Ha Giang
The Lo Lo ethnic minority people live mostly in Lung Cu commune, Ha Giang province. They live harmoniously with other ethnic groups of the Dong Van stone plateau while maintaining their ancient customs and traditions.
The local authorities have organized a festival of Lo Lo culture that features their traditions and worship rituals.
More than 100 households of 500 people live in a Lo Lo hamlet at the foot of Dragon Mountain, where the famous Lung Cu flag flies. The Lo Lo are one of the smallest of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. A long journey over winding roads takes you to a corner of the world where people live in unusual earthen homes.
The Lo Lo hold many festivals and ceremonies each year – dancing on a tree, picking corn, and praying for rain, for example. Worthy of note is their ancestor worship ritual in the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2012.
Every Lo Lo family has an ancestral altar. The annual worship ritual for the ancestors is usually hosted by the head of the clan, with contributions from all relatives depending on finances. The offering should include a buffalo, a pig, a chicken, steamed sticky rice, alcohol, votive papers, kerosene lamps, and two bronze drums.
The head of the clan invites a shaman to preside over the ritual. He borrows a pair of drums from the village, which includes one big female drum and one small male drum. These are only played at community festivals and big clan events. The head of the clan invites a drummer and several people who disguise themselves as spirit guides to dance.
Luong Trieu Luan, Chairman of Lung Cu commune’s People’s Committee, said, “This is the second time we have organized the Lo Lo culture festival featuring their traditional dances, songs, brocade, and folk games, such as pushing sticks and chasing pigs. We are revitalizing their worship rituals, including their ancestor worship ceremony. The Lo Lo culture festival has attracted many Vietnamese and foreign tourists.”
At the Lo Lo culture festival, people showcase their traditional costumes and compete in contests of weaving brocade, picking corn, and slice cutting tobacco.
Nguyen Thi Ha, a tourist from Hanoi, said, “I joined in the festival with the local people. It was fantastic to learn about the Lo Lo culture.” VOV5