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Tsou Tribe Homeyaya
Last Change Time:2015-07-29Published by:Planning Section
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In Tsou traditional life, millet is a main crop and food. Due to this the planting of millet and harvest of millet are crucial in a year of the Tsou Tribe. It can be said that the most important life rituals revolve around the growth of millet, from the sowing festival, the weeding festival, to the harvest festival and the warehouse festival. The festivals are all complex and serious, but also show the crucial role of millet for the Tsou Tribe.

Out of these festivals about millet, the millet harvest festival – Homeyaya is the most important. This is a ritual held during July and August, when the millets are ripe. It is also the “New Year” for the Tsou Tribe. The tribe would thank the goddess of millet for her care towards the crops, while strengthening the cohesion of family and tribe through these ceremonies. The early millet festivals require a month to be complete, but due to the changing society, now it only takes one to two days to complete the entire ceremony.

Every year when the millet’s ripe, the elders of the big communities (Dabang, Tefuye) well decide the harvest time and notify the other smaller communities. While the Mayasvi is held in the Kuba (only in major tribes), the Homeyaya is held in the emoo no peisia (forbidden house) available in all tribes. The tribe members of the smaller communities will have to finish their own Homeyaya before the big communities, and then return to the big communities for their Homeyaya. The main reason is because of the lower sea level of the smaller communities that cause the millet to ripe faster. On the other hand, legends also say that the goddess of millet start inspecting the progress from the small communities first. Traditionally, the smaller communities well have to give all their harvest from their Homeyaya for the Homeyaya of the bigger communities.

After the first few days of the Homeyaya, each family will have to prepare funding, rice, wine, and pork needed for the ceremonies. They will each be assigned a job, and clan members will also clean themselves and the houses. The devices used for the rituals would be cleaned using mugwort, since it can prevent evil spirits. In the whole Homeyaya period, the people are also prohibited to eat food such as fish, potatoes, ginger, garlic, and salt. During harvest, they are also not allowed to talk with others or continue to farm. Those who breach the rules will not be able to harvest.

On the night before the Homeyaya, the elders in charge of the emoo no peisia will wait patiently for the arrival of the goddess of millet. Legends say that the millet goddess has a really weird temper and hate noises and favor silence, so if any tribe members behave nosily or not respectfully, the goddess will leave immediately. Due to this, the tribe members all have to use their most respectful state of mind to welcome the goddess, in order to not offend her.

Before sunrise on the day of Hpmeyaya, the elders in the emoo no peisia will began to prepare and pack wine, the right ear of squirrels or tips of pig’s ears, and tea cups into a bamboo basket. At day break, the elders will take the baskets with a stick formed by bamboo into the millet fields. After praying the gods, they will bring some millet back to the emoo no peisia while reporting the harvest results to the millet goddess, thanking her for her blessing and care. They will also take out wine, pork, sticky rice cake, and squirrel meat as offerings. Other tribe members will also come into the emoo no peisia to pray to the gods. After the ritual, the crowd will then share the food and drinks together. Next, there will be an exchange between the clans. Since every family member can come for the Homeyaya, everyone can be joyfully united, promoting emotional interaction and strengthening the tribe’s unity. After each tribe member visits each other’s emoo no peisia, they will engage in activities such as praying, congratulating, and enjoying traditional food.

In past traditions, after the visits, the elders and younglings will lead everyone into the clan head’s emoo no peisia, listening to the lectures of the head and the elders. Under the leadership of the elders, they will chant historical epics of the tribe and sing a few battle hymns. From this process, cultural spirit is passed down generation by generation. In the past, one ~ two weeks after the Homeyaya, the little clan will also welcome the mother clans to come to the smaller communities to visit. This is known as the siuski. Due to changing times however, this custom has gradually disappeared. Until recently certain tribes have finally began searching for their past tribal spirit, reviving the tradition.

Today, the Homeyaya and Mayasvi are the two annual big ceremonies of the Tsou Tribe. In this world of flux, the Tsou tribe held their hands, forming a circle, guarding their traditions, beliefs, and each other with their hearts.
  • Activity location
  • Alishan Township, Chaiyi County
  • Organizer
  • Tsou Festival Committee
  • Activity time
  • From 7Month to 7Month ever year
  • Remark
  • The specific details are accurate only through the organizers' announcements on time and location, please note the website for update.
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