Cu Lao Cham Islands - Legends & Traditions

Temples for those who die young : 

Many homes have a shrine to worship miscarried babies or children who died young. The belief is: young souls have great superpowers & get angry, unless worshiped by the family. If they aren't honored: the family will suffer illness & bad luck in business. On a girl's shrine you might see a hand mirror and comb, for boys, perhaps: a bow, arrows and toys. These small temples are built in a high place facing a direction as decided by the village sorcerer or witchdoctor.

Forsaken spirits : 

On the 1st,13th & 14th days of the lunar calendar & on the full moon, they prepare offerings for the dead. They place fruit, flowers, tea, wine & burning incense at the ancestors shrine. They prepare a separate sacrifice, in front of the house to ask the forsaken spirits to allow the souls of their family to enter the house and receive their offerings. Several temples on Cham have been built to satisfy an angry soul who requires worship. If not solemnly worshiped, an angry spirit could become dangerous to the living.

Legend of Ba Hong Temple : 

Mrs Hong was a beautiful woman with the longest hair in the village. The other women were envious & gossiped about her fidelity: her husband, beat from the jealousy it caused. Eventually, she ended her life by jumping off a cliff into the sea. Her body drifted to shore & her spirit (via the sorcerer), forbade the villagers to build a temple, but it was built regardless. Since then any woman with long hair, or wearing a new hat is scolded by whoever passes by.

Why they don't shoot monkeys: 

Cham is covered with jungle where monkeys thrive. Legend has it: one day, a man who shot monkeys, accidentally shot a baby monkey in the leg & the mother monkey carried the baby away. That night he found the baby monkey in his yard, bandaged but dead. Later, the man's wife gave birth to a boy with a crippled leg. Cham folk believe that shooting monkeys brings bad luck. They believe: monkeys are humans who committed a sin in a past life. The punishment being to live in the body of an animal.

Traditions when giving birth : 

If a mother faces difficulties in labor, the father pours a basin of water on the roof of the house to pray to heaven for luck & help avoid disaster. As soon as the baby is born: the midwife pokes the mother in the back to allow bloodshed. Then the new mother drinks the urine of 5-6 year boys who just woke up, mixed with turmeric flour. For fifteen days, the mother must stay in bed, & she must stay in her mother's parent's home for 3 months after giving birth. This practice still exists in rural Vietnam.

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