CHAM CULTURE IN MY SON SANCTUARY

Champa culture had great influences on Vietnam’s cultural values of significance. The former capital of the Champa Kingdom from 4th to 15th century was My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam province, central Vietnam.

CULTURAL VALUE

Today the Cham are spread throughout East Asia. They are predominantly Sunni Muslim in Cambodia, Shia Islam in China, and Buddhist in Thailand. A small number of the Vietnamese Cham (also known as the Eastern Cham) follow Islam and a relative few follow Mahayana Buddhism, but the majority are Hindu.

Their festivals are still celebrated and the traditional Hindu ceremonies and worship continue. Life’s passages, such as graduations, weddings, births and deaths, are still observed in accordance with the Hindu traditions. Along with the Balinese Hindus, the Cham Balamon represent the only remaining non-Indic populations of indigenous Hindus surviving today.

Cham observe a fairly strict division of labour, with women caring for children and the household. Men are responsible for rice cultivation and the chores of construction, tool craft, and repair.

Women do most of the textile manufacture, such as carding, spinning, and weaving cotton. They are also responsible for the family vegetable and fruit gardens and for threshing, husking, and milling the grain. Women carry the family’s water from the nearest lake, river, or pond.

The birth of a Cham child is greeted by the family and community with great joy. Babies are nursed by their mothers until two to four years of age. At age four, children are expected to feed, bathe, and control themselves, and shortly thereafter, to care for their younger siblings.

Most parents exercise almost complete control over their children until they are married. Even after marriage, the influence of parents is strong. Children are expected to show respect to their parents and elders, and are severely punished for any lapse.

The vast majority of Cham marry within their group and religion. When a girl and her parents (or a boy and his parents) agree on a selection, the parents approach the other’s parents.

Cham marriages are simple, involving little expense or ceremony. In the presence of an imam (spiritual leader) who acts as the witness, the parents of the young woman ask the groom if he will accept their daughter as his bride. After he agrees, the marriage is concluded and is then celebrated with a feast.

Cham trace their descent and pass inheritance through the maternal line. Residence is also matriarchal, so that young couples go to live with the wife’s family.

RELIGION

The term Champa refers to a collection of independent Cham polities that extended across the coast of what is today central and southern Vietnam from approximately the 2nd century through 19th century (1832), before being absorbed and annexed by the Vietnamese state.

The Chams of modern Vietnam and Cambodia are the remnants of this former kingdom. They speak Chamic languages, a sub – family of Malayo-Polynesian closely related to the Malayic and Bali–Sasak languages.

Hinduism, adopted from India since early in its history, has shaped the art and culture of Champa kingdom for centuries, as testified with numbers of exquisite Cham Hindu statues and red brick temples dotted the landscapes in Cham lands.

Today, some Cham adhere to the Islamic faith, a conversion which was started in 15th century, and they are called Bani Cham. There are however, Balamon Cham (from Sanskrit:Brahman) who still retain and preserve their Hindu faith, rituals and festivals. Balamon Cham are only two surviving non-Indicindigenous Hindu people in the world, with a culture dating back thousands of years. The other one is the Hindu Balinese of Indonesia.

Islam started making headway among the Cham after the 10th century. By the 17th century, the royal families of the Cham had converted to Islam. Most Cham are now evenly split between being followers of Islam and Hinduism, with the majority of Vietnamese Cham being Hindu while the majority of Cambodian Cham are Muslim, though significant minorities of Mahayana Buddhists continue to exist.

 While today the Cham are Vietnam’s only surviving Hindus, the nation once harbored some of the world’s most exquisite and vibrant Hindu cultures. The entire region of Southeast Asia, in fact, was home to numerous Hindu kingdoms. The many magnificient temples and artifacts, from Angkor Wat to Prambana, remain as potent testimonials to their splendor and accomplishments.

DANCES PLAY

Dance playa an important role in the spiritual and cultural life of the Cham ethnic minority. Cham dances are a unique art form for both the Cham and Vietnamese culture. While this ethnic group lives mostly in the Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces, some communities can also be found in An Giang, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, and Ho Chi Minh City. And throughout the year, you can find elaborate festivals performed within these communities to commemorate ancestors, gods and goddesses, and ancient heroes. Their dances are an integral part of popular festivals, including the Rija Nugar, Kate, and Rija Praung, drawing both Vietnamese and foreign tourists from all parts of the globe.

Popular Cham dances are derived from their connection to the land. Ie dances of peacocks, or boats.  There is the fan dance, a traditional dance using fans, there is a dance involving dancing with a water pitcher on ones head whilst being as graceful as possible. The pinnacle being to dance without holding the jug.

There is a dance involving swords, rope, fire which convey power, strength and pride .The purpose of the dance is to help overcome challenges.

There is also the Dances of rowing-boat. Oars are used as instruments, which are usually replaced with sugar canes on holiday occasions. This dance resembles the rhythm of rowing a boat at sea.

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