The Kho Mu live close to nature and cultivate crops on terraced fields. They worship the Genie of Fire who generates life and prosperity.
For hundreds of years, fire has been central to Kho Mu life. The Kho Mu kindle fire by rubbing two bamboo tubes together. The bamboo tubes should be very old and dry, and 2 to 3 feet long.
The Kho Mu follow strict rules when they build a house, install a firewood stove, and worship the Genie of Fire.
The firewood stove represents the Fire Genie in the house and symbolizes life and eternity.
Dr. Vi Van An, folklorist from the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, said “A Kho Mu house has 3 rooms. The firewood stove is usually located on the left side of the front room. Above the firewood stove is a frame for drying food. The stove is used both for cooking and heating the house. Guests are entertained beside the firewood stove.”
A second stove is located in the middle room, where the Kho Mu also place the ancestral altar. Only family members are allowed to enter this room. All important family events and ceremonies are held beside this firewood stove.
Mr. An said “The Kho Mu have a separate stove to cook for their ancestors to ensure purity. They slaughter buffaloes and cows to cook as offerings to on this stove.”
A third stove, in the last room, is called the rice stove and is closely associated with the worship of the Rice Mother.
After a rice harvest, they steam some new rice and offer it to the Rice Mother to thank her for blessing them with a bumper crop. All things in this room are so sacred that no one is allowed to remove them.
Although many customs of the Kho Mu have changed in recent years, they still worship the Fire Genie who brings them good luck and chases away misfortunes.VOV5