A Glimpse Of Cham People In An Giang
By Phuong Kieu
Da Phuoc Commune, or Muong Cha, in An Phu District is the cradle of most of Cham people in An Giang Province
|An Islamic mosque in Muong Cha, Da Phuoc Commune, An Phuoc District, An Giang Province|
The Cham minority in An Giang Province, who are mostly Islamic followers, are often called by many names such as Chàm, Chà, Chà Và, Chà Và Ku, Chiêm Thành, Gia Va, Mã Lai, Khmer Islam, Champa, Chm, Chm Bàni, Chm Islam, Chm Chuk, Chm Kaphir or Chm Jet. But Cham people do not like to be called Chà Và, which probably comes from Java, an Indonesian island, because they consider it racial discrimination.
Their Islamic mosques in An Phu District are the most unique features. The Masjid Jamius Sunnah Mosque is greatly admired thanks to its original architecture with the dome like a prominent garlic in the sky. Masjid is a place of worship for followers of Islam while Cham people consider it a name that Allah (God) put in the Koran. And Jamius Sunnah means beautiful things.
Most of Islamic mosques are decorated with paintings or carvings of Arabic characters or sentences from the Koran to honor Allah. The mosque has a lecture hall covered by a carpet. Iman, the head of the mosque, will stand next to the hall to host ceremonies such as weddings, funerals or other important rituals of Cham Moslems.
Before attending a ritual, followers must wash their faces, hands and feet carefully in accordance with the Sambayang rules, and tidy up their attire. According to the Islam, those with a clean body and well-dressed attire will be accepted by Allah when they pray in the mosque.
Muong Cha is also famous for brocade weaving and the popular workshop which most tourists choose to visit is owned by Tares, 75, who pursued this traditional craft more than half a century ago. Crossing a 500-meter-long wooden bridge and travelers will arrive at the shop that they can buy brocade products for souvenirs such as scarves, hats, handbags and sarong, among others.
At the end of the bridge are two Cham-style boats, and on the bank of the Da Phuoc River is a Cham house on stilts. Every day, locals cast the net to catch fish in the river, which is a main job of Cham people in the flooding season. Thanks to this job, their income is better and their living condition is thus improved. Visitors, especially foreign tourists, are very excited about contemplating the daily life of the locals.