Thanksgiving Ceremony of the Ba Na

The Thanksgiving ceremony of the Ba Na is usually held during the lull after the new rice harvest. When children get married and move into own house, they invite their family to a Thanksgiving ceremony.

Depending on their wealth, the children will prepare such offerings as a buffalo, a pig, or some chickens and a jar of wine. The Thanksgiving ceremony is a spiritual tradition of the Bana. The ceremony is held while the parents are still alive. The custom reminds people of filial duty and gratitude toward parents and ancestors.

The Thanksgiving ceremony is held for the families of both the husband and the wife to show equality in the family relationship. The ceremony lasts two days and involves both close family members and remote relatives.

On Thanksgiving Day the child brings a jar of wine and other offerings to their parents’ house. The offerings are placed on the ancestral altar inside the house and the altar of spirits in the courtyard. The jar of wine is placed in the center of the house next to a bamboo tree on which pork or beef is hung. The child sprinkles wine on his parents with a bamboo branch. Together they perform a ritual inviting the ancestors to witness the children’s filial respect and thank the ancestors for blessing them with good health, happiness, and prosperity. The child cooks the favorite dishes of his or her parents and invites them to drink wine. The child talks about the mother’s gift of giving birth and feeding and the father’s gift of protection. First the mother drinks wine, then the father, the child, the in-laws, and the other relatives.

Customarily, guests bring rice, boiled eggs, and some money as gifts for the host. They also bring food and wine to contribute to the meal prepared by the host.

The Thanksgiving ceremony has adopted some new features such as young people singing during the party, but it continues to be a vital tradition in the spiritual life of the Bana.

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