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Từ điển Việt - Anh
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Ministry of Agriculture
Food and Agriculture Organization; FAO
Agricultural machinery
CEREMONIES STILL AT THE HEART OF AGRICULTURE IN VIETNAM Lễ Hạ Điền is a popular ceremony which bears a religious significance for Vietnamese farmers. During the ceremony, farmers pray to heaven to grant them blessings. As Vietnam is an agricultural country where labour-intensive wet-rice is grown, the life of the majority of people is closely linked with the land. Hence, almost all ceremonies and rituals are connected with farming. Wet-rice is grown in very difficult natural conditions, especially in the Red River Delta and central Vietnam where natural calamities - typhoons, flooding, drought and pests - are a constant menace for the peasantry. In the past, in the absence of science and technology, Vietnamese farmers believed in mysterious forces which decided their success or failure. This faith is found in such folk songs as "Thanks to heaven which grants us good weather conditions" or "I pray to heaven to bring rain so that I can have enough water to drink and cover my fields". Heaven (or Trời in Vietnamese) is a common appellation for the spirit world. The belief in the power of spirits is handed down from generation to generation, so that even now our farmers turn to spirits for assistance. Hence the existence of so many farming-related ceremonies. In the past, there were two main rice crops: the Mùa and the Chiêm. Depending on climate and local understanding, farmers regard the Chiêm as the main crop, or vice versa. For this reason, Lễ Hạ Điền differs from one region to another. In many villages, the ceremony is regarded as a major event in the life of the peasantry. Although the ceremonies may differ in scale, the rituals have many common features. On the day of the ceremony, early in the morning, village notables called Già Làng (elder people) in the central highlands make their way to the communal house where other villagers await. There they pay tribute to Thành Hoàng (tutelary god) and Thần Nông (god of agriculture) and other divinities; begging them to bring security, prosperity and bumper crops. Afterwards, the villagers head to a chosen location, usually not too far from the communal house, where the ceremony inaugurating the farming season takes place. In a first-class rice field already meticulously ploughed and harrowed, a bamboo tree is planted with all its branches and leaves. The tree is called Cây Nêu. Ears of rice are attached to the top of the tree, and having reported to the god of agriculture, they start the ceremony proper. To start the ball rolling, a rice transplant ritual is performed. For this, many Chúa Đồng (Field Lords) are selected. In some villages, only one Chúa Đồng is singled out. They are mostly elderly people, versed in farming techniques and the soil. In addition, they must be kind-hearted people having extended families whose members live in perfect concord. Last but not least, they should not be mourning. People hope that the good qualities of the Chúa Đồng will blend into the rice plants and impart great vitality to them. Having paid their respects to the god of agriculture, the Chúa Đồng step into the field and transplant rice around the bamboo tree. In the meantime, the villagers shout cheerfully and beat drums (mimicking natural disaster), targeting the Chúa Đồng. If these people can stand firm on their feet and manage to perform their task well, people believe that their wish will come true. Lễ Hạ Điền is held in a very simple way, but it is very dear to the farmers. They pin all their hopes on the good health, prosperity and happiness that the ceremony promises. Furthermore, it is in this ceremony that the spirit of the community comes to the surface. In their hearts, everyone pledges to join forces for the common cause. (VNS)
Từ điển Việt - Việt
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