|Cham people in An Giang province attend a Ramadan mass. (baoangiang.com.vn)
Like Muslims worldwide, the Cham in Vietnamcelebrate many traditional festivals each year. The most important event is Ramadan, the month of fasting.
For the entire month, they don’t eat, drink, or smoke between dawn and sunset. People above the age of 5 fast and review the wrongs they have committed in the past year. They are not allowed to slaughter an animal or pick aquarrel with anybody. Playing a musical instrument or singing is also forbidden during Ramadan.
Before the month of fasting, Cham people gather at a community house or mosque to prepare Halal food such as cakes and beef to eat when breaking their fast each evening. They avoid alcoholic beverages altogether.
Mohamet in Vung Xoai hamlet, Chau Phong commune, talks about the forbidden things, “During the month of Ramadan, people don’t eat during the day. We can eat when it’s dark. When breaking their fast, Muslims eat only foods that are permissible under Islamic law."
"On the 30th day, after a mass at the mosque, we visit relatives and friends to congratulate them,” he added.
Fasting is a spiritual act that allows the faithful to develop empathy for the poor. During the day they pray at mosques, abstain from food and drink, and perform charity work. When it’s dark they have a meal together.
“The main dishes for dinner are curried rice and curried beef. During Ramadan we pray at mosques, visit relatives, and have a meal together,” said Chale, head of Vung Xoai hamlet.
Huynh Thanh Duy, a cultural official in Chau Phong commune, said, “The month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of the Cham. The local authorities have paid attention to their cultural life. We wish them a happy and joyful festival. Children cheerfully help their parents clean and decorate their houses to welcome the festival.”
Vietnam has more than 80,000 Islamic followers. 85% of them are Cham people who live in southern provinces.