The Khmer

06:47 PM 21/01/2016 Views: 3357 Print

Being one of the ethnic groups among the community of nationalities in Vietnam, the Khmer have lived in the Mekong River delta for a long time. Though they preserve their own language and writings, the Khmer have shared with other nationalities a national culture and history of the defence and construction of the homeland. The Khmer live alternately with the Kinh and Hoa in srocs (villages), phums or aps (hamlets). The houses are simply built with thatched and a few of tiled roofs, the doors face the east. The back roof is often longer than the front one. The Khmer used to build the houses by measures of odd numbers such as 5 or 7 metres, and so on.

The Khmer have a long tradition in wet-rice cultivation. They choose seeds appropriate to the soil. Khmer peasants are experts in irrigation techniques and know how to take advantage of tides to clean alum soil and reform the land. Water- melons are grown in some certain places. Animal husbandry is still associated with agriculture, oxen and buffaloes are kept as draught animals; chicken, ducks and fish supplement family meat. Handicrafts are developed including weaving, pottery and sugar-making from thot not trees (a tree contains sweet liquid to refine sugar).

The Khmer in south Vietnam are influenced by three religious forms comprising traditional beliefs, Brahmanism and Hinayana Buddhism. They are venerated Buddhism. Each hamlet has a pagoda built which is the centre of cultural activity of the people. The pagoda is looked after by many monks (called Mr. Luc) led by a high-ranking monk. Before grown-up, the Khmer young people often come to study and improve their virture and knowledge at the pagodas. There are now more than 400 pagodas built in south Vietnam. The monks often teach the people how to use Khmer writings and exchange experiences in production.     

The Khmer in south Vietnam preserve many customs and practises. Khmer culture and arts are very unique. In the large pagodas there are various teams of drums, trumpets, ghe ngo (a kind of small boat used for boat-racing). Every year the Khmer organize many traditional festivals and ceremonies, of which the major ones include Chon cho nam tho may (New Year festival), Buddha's birthday, don ta (forgive the crimes of the dead), Ooc bom booc (moon worship), and so on