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In Vietnam, Men Parade but Women Rule at a Festival Called Kate

on 2019/10/2 12:39:05 ( 908 reads )


PHAN RANG, VIETNAM, September 30, 2019 (Reuters): Thousands of Vietnam's ethnic Cham people met under rainy late September skies for their annual "Kate" festival that, according to the multi-faith community's calendar, marks the end of one harvest season and the beginning of another. The Cham are descendents of a powerful ancient kingdom that once spanned large parts of central and southern Vietnam a millennium ago. They are a traditionally matriarchal society, which worships a female Goddess and expects the youngest daughter to inherit family assets. A rich history of trading and movement across Asia have made the Cham a uniquely multi-faith group, divided into predominantly Hindu and Muslim branches, all of whom come together to celebrate "Kate".

At the Po Klong Garai temple in the southern town of Phan Rang - a Vietnamese rendering of Panduranga, the Cham Kingdom's ancient capital - dozens of men in bright red and white traditional costume paraded with a sacred garment. The holy dress, which is kept in the nearby commune of Phuoc Ha, is brought to the crumbling, clay-brick 13th Century temple, within which lies a statue of the Hindu God Shiva. Behind a small door, the deity is dressed in the sacred Cham garments by religious leaders, who perform traditional rites and blessings.

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