Kate festival, the largest of the Cham ethnic people in the central province of Ninh Thuan in the year, aims to honour male deities and ancestors who extended great help to people.
Kate festival takes place in the seventh month of the Cham people’s calendar and it usually falls in October.
Festival activities are held in three tower temples in Ninh Thuan province at the same time and on the same day. The rituals are similar in content.
It includes a ceremony to receive Goddess Po Nagar’s costumes in Huu Duc hamlet, Phuoc Huu commune, Ninh Phuoc district.
Goddess Po Nagar is said to be the ancestor of the Cham people who taught them how to grow rice and cotton, weave clothing and carry out cultural activities in their daily lives.
All the royal costumes at Cham tower temples are kept by the Raglai people. Therefore, at the Kate festival, the Cham people have to perform a ceremony to welcome the Ragrai people who bring the costumes to the Cham tower temples.
The ceremony starts at 1.30 pm and ends at 9 pm in the hamlet’s temple.
Offerings to Goddess Po Nagar include betel and areca, eggs, chicken, fruits and Tet cake.
The festival is also an occasion where the participants can enjoy unique folk singing, dancing and music. They can dance with Cham people and relax with Gi nang drumming and Saranai trumpeting. The festival serves as evidence for the cultural richness of the Vietnamese.
Apart from festive activities in the community, the Cham people also celebrate the festival in their families.
In the past, the festival usually lasted for one month in their families but today, it is shortened to three days.
On the first day, family members gather to prepare traditional cakes and offerings.
On the second day, they join rituals at pagodas.
On the third day, they conduct worship to implore ancestors and deities to support them in life.
On this occasion, each family prepares cakes and fruits to invite relatives and friends to visit and congratulate each other.
There are about 153,000 Cham people in Vietnam, including approximately 72,500 people in Ninh Thuan, who live in 22 hamlets.
The Cham people in Ninh Thuan still preserve several unique folk festivals like Kate, Ramawan and Rija Nagar.