Deang Rice Goddess

The Deang Goddess of the Rice is the most important of their traditional deities. She is honored several times a year in accordance with different steps of the agricultural cycle. Plowing is an activity that the men carry out, but before they begin, the women on the edge of the field sing aloud to the Goddess of the Rice: "Oh, goddess. Come to protect our field; don't let the deer and other animals tramp it." Only when they have finished their songs the men begin to plow the earth.

Deang people are dancing on the festival. (Photo from lotour.com)

The sowing of seeds is carried out by women. Before they begin they carry out a solemn ceremony in honor of the Goddess of the Rice in which people meet in the field, children play cymbals and drums, a chicken and a pig are sacrificed, songs are sung asking the grain to grow well, and a ritual meal is eaten. By weeding time in each house a platform to honor the Goddess of the Rice. During a ceremonies held at this time the names of seven brothers and the seven sisters of the goddess are read out. That altar, located on the main wooden cross of the house, is object of ceremonies three times every month, directed by the family head.

Harvesting is usually carried out by women. During that time, offerings are continually made to the Goddess of the Rice. Sometimes the Deang build a kind of house for her—a bamboo structure with white paper, called "The goddess's house". Before the harvest, during the ceremony of "Taste the new rice", Deang take home the first rice that matures in the field, and they mix it with the old rice to make a ritual meal. Before eating it they offer it to the Goddess of the Rice, saying "Goddess of the Rice, taste our new rice." They also offer some rice to the ox and the dog, to thank them respectively for work the fields, and for protect them. Then they offer a part in the Buddhist temple, and in the end, the family finally has a chance to taste the new rice.



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