Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ethnic minority turn to Jesus as more 'affordable' option

At upwards of US$500, the cost of slaughtering a buffalo to revive a relative condemned to ill-health by the spirits has pushed the Jarai indigenous minority residents of Somkul village in Ratanakkiri to a more affordable religious option: Christianity.
In the village in O’Yadav district’s Som Thom commune, about 80 per cent of the community have given up on spirits and ghosts in favour of Sunday sermons and modern medicine.
Sev Chel, 38, said she made the switch because when she used to get sick, it could cost her hundreds of dollars to appease the gods with a sacrificial package that might include a cow or buffalo, a chicken, bananas, incense and rice wine. “So if I sold that buffalo and took the money to pay for medicine, it is about 30,000 riel to 40,000 riel [for them to] get better, so we are strong believers in Jesus,” she said. “If I did not believe in Jesus, maybe at this time I would still be poor and not know anything besides my community.” [Full story here]


Blogger The back of the hill said...

Jesus is a doctor?

November 08, 2012 2:30 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Also interesting, the Jarai are not Khmer but Malayo-Polynesian, like the Chams. Originally Montagnard. Which I remember both from a National Geographic Magazine article from the late sixties which I last read in the mid-seventies, as well as a manual about the Montagnard tribes published by the army during the Vietnam War period. Many spend from the end of the rice harvest to the end of the rains getting plastered on rice wine. It's a respite.

November 08, 2012 2:34 PM  
Anonymous e-k said...

Jesus is more powerful mojo than the local gods, and apparently a bargain as well...

This is the line that scared me the most:
"cannot remember how many litres of rice wine she used to knock back each day"

November 08, 2012 3:10 PM  

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