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Ethnic minority funerary ritual named national heritage by Vietnam
By Thanh Nien News -
Members of Raglai ethnic group play traditional music instruments at a ceremony to honor their post-funerary rituals in Khanh Hoa Province on April 17. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

A Raglai ethnic tribe's ceremony for bidding a final farewell to the dead, usually held months after their funeral, was recognized as a national cultural heritage on Thursday.
The “ceremony for leaving the graves” is considered the most iconic Raglai ritual.
The community holds the post-funerary rites every March or April, following their harvest, to commemorate the dead.
The Raglai tribe includes some 130,000 people living along the south central region, believe that the two worlds of the dead and the living exist parallel to one another.
They believe that a recently buried person maintain a connection to the world of the living for months after their burial.
The ceremony is thus held to end that connection, so the dead person can travel to other world.
Families usually organize the ceremony over the course of several days and invite all of the previous funeral guests so they can bid a final farewell.
The wine, beef and decorations for the grave must be prepared months in advance, including a wooden boat called a Kagor which is placed over the grave to symbolize the other world.
Cultural documents say the Kagor is a remnant of the Raglai's maritime past.
The many decorations on the boat are believed to transfer as much happiness for the dead person in the other world.
The heritage recognition was announced at a meeting in Khanh Hoa Province, with the participation and traditional musical performances of Raglai people in the area.
Speaking to Tuoi Tre on behalf of the Raglai community in Khanh Son District, Mau Xuan Danh said the ceremony has important spiritual significance and has been carefully passed down through the generations.
It not only shows the love and responsibility of the living to the dead, but also offers an opportunity to honor the entire community.
Jrai ethnic group in the Central Highlands’ Gia Lai Province hold a similar ceremony called Po Thi:
Jrai people in Pi village in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai drink wine from a jar with bamboo pipes at a Po Thi, a ceremony to say farewell to their dead relatives. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Men strike gongs during the ceremony.

A woman eats pork wrapped in banana leaves, a typical dish in the ceremony feast.
Cattle donated by villages for the ceremony.

Pigs being grilled.

Women prepare offerings to the dead in a graveyard, decorated with strings of bells.

A man with a porcelain dog statue at the graveyard. The villagers used to have wooden statues to decorate the graveyard but they are out of both wood and people who can carve it.

Women and children rest during the ceremony.

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