CULTURAL IDENTITY AND THE M’NONG

The M’Nong community is extensively animist, and whose spirits are ubiquitous. These spirits appear throughout their world, to bless food, the people, society in general, and the dead. As is frequently the case, the spirits are also involved in blessing food and harvests. To this, the communities express their gratitude by holding festivals in honor of these sprities.

One highly popular event to celebrate new rice and to pray for rain and good crops in the M’nong community is the farewell ceremony for the dead in the Ea sup and Buon Don districts in Dac Lac. Included in this are the elephant race of the M’Nong, and the elephant bathing ceremony and prayer for elephant health.

According to the M’Nong, following the death of the human body, the spirit continues to bond with the human world. To this, the family of the dead must provide food to the dead continuously. This may continue for up to five years, after which, the community conducts a ceremony to ensure that the dead person travels correctly. This ceremony comprises music, dance, and other performances, which can seem startling to onlookers. Over the five years, food and statues are placed at the tomb of the deceased.

Linguistically, “Ot N’Rong” provides a benchmark for other epics of the M’Nong narrating the history of ethnic groups in the M’Nong Central Highlands.