Belongs to Bru – Van Kieu ethnic group, the Ma Coong is a small group living in Thuong Trach commune, Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province. The legend has that the love night of the Ma Coong is derived by Giang (God) who helped local people to kill the naughty monkey that harassed crops, creating poverty, and after that he granted Ma Coong people a night of free love to live in wildness without worrying about restrictions and rules.
In the 16th night of the first lunar month every year, Ma Coong people gather in the sacred land that is Ca Roong village. In the festival night, when the moon rises highest, the chieftain reads the prayers asking the Gods to support for peaceful life, productive crops… After finishing the ritual, the rice will be thrown out, wishing that new rice will come to make the baskets, the crops full.
The banquet of offerings to worship Giang must include tube-wine, chicken, fish, sticky rice, top of rattan tree, a part of doac tree trunk. Each village has a banquet and there must be totally 18 banquets. The offering banquets must be made by members in the families of villages’ chiefs. After several times worshipping, the chief speaks the command to start the breaking drum festival. The villagers and also guests flow close to the drum. Everyone try to get the drumstick.
The festival drum has been made since the morning, drum body is made from the trunk of convex woody tree, and the leather covering the drum surface is made from the skin of cow. The drum is covered by old rattan; old bamboo is used to pack the drum surface to make it stretched. The persons who beat the drum must be the strongest guys. The drum must be beaten to be broken before the morning so that the god will recognize sincerity of people and they will get productive crops in the next year.
As well as beaten the drum, the young guys shout: “Roa lu Giang oi!” (This means “How happiness it is!”). The faster the drum is broken, the sooner young people can take their lover to the forest for making love.
After the drum is broken, each couple quietly holds the hands of each other; find their private place to chat, make love. The location may be on the mountain, near the stream or wherever. Lovers may be single guy - single girl or wife – husband; even ones from different marriages can date with each other according to the free love offered by Giang. There is no jealousy, no obstacle; others passing through and seeing this will consider it manual issue. This happens similar to Khau Vai love market or Moc Chau love market.
When the fire is about to be off, the sun slowly rises on another side of the mountain, it’s time for the breaking drum festival of the Ma Coong to be ended.
Translated by Vu Thuy Duong