According to the Pinuyumayan folk beliefs, there are biruwa (spirits) everywhere, including the god of nature, the god of heaven and earth, the god of directions, the god of people making, and the spirits of ancestors and the dead. There are good and evil spirits. Before farming, harvest, and hunting, the Pinuyumayan people will pray to the spirits to show their respect and faith. In addition to natural spirits, ancestral spirts affect the luck and fortune of individuals. Therefore, they also worship ancestral spirits in benediction and rituals. Pinuyumayan witches have powerful magic, making them famous in other nearby ethnic groups and regions.
Divination is popular to Pinuyumayan witches. They predict opportunities and development based on signs in the natural environment. Divination is practiced based on dreams and birds. In addition to folk beliefs, the Pinuyumayan people accepted the religions of the Han people and Christianity from the Western world. As a result, the religions from all three sources exist in their daily life. Due to the revival and revitalization of traditional rituals in 1981, people began to value and discuss traditional Pinuyumayan beliefs and religions.
Based on tradition and religion, Pinuyumayan rituals fall into two main types: (1) Agricultural Rituals, such as the Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual) and the Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual); and (2) Life Rituals, such as the Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual) and the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual). Regular annual Pinuyumayan rituals include:
March: Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)
April: Ruvuwa’an (Ancestral Landing and Cradleland Ritual)
July: Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual)
December: Annual Ritual (Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual), Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual))
Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)
The ritual is held in March after the completion of mowing by the female mowing team. In the ritual, a witch prays for blessings with glass beads, women tap the bronze cup bell running and shouting slogans until they pick up the piper betel, a present prepared by men in the village, from the place where the men put it. Then, women bring the piper betel back to the ritual venue to symbolize unification. After returning to the village, a communion, interesting competitions, and other activities continue.
Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)
Ruvuwa’an (Ancestral Landing and Cradleland Ritual) Every April, the priest and the witch will take the Pinuyumayan people from the Katratripulr (Zhiben Village) and Kasavakan (Jianhe) Villages to the ancestral landing site to worship ancestors and hold the ritual (Ruvuwa’an).The ritual is simple but solemn, bringing about profound historical and cultural meanings.
Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual)
The ritual is held based on each extended family for 3-7 days. One night before the ritual, the priest will make a dream divination and practice exorcism. In the ritual morning, women with good dreams will prepare betel nut offerings with three glass beads in the millet field. Then, they will cut down millet ears and cover them on the betel nut with glass beads. They will also bring a bundle of millet ears to the priest’s house for the priest to tie them up on a bamboo. When seeing the bamboo with millet ears is erected in the priest’s yard, people know that the ritual is over and they can start harvesting. In addition, various cultural activities will be held. Some communities will set up swings in the square in front of the assembly hall. It is said that the higher a swing swings, the taller and more the millet will grow, suggesting good wishes for agriculture. The Pinuyumayan people also set the swings to keep children from disturbing the ritual. Today, this has become a special cultural activity.
Mangayaw (Annual Ritual)
“Mangayaw (Annual Ritual)” is the biggest Pinuyumayan event held between the end of a year and the beginning of a new year. It is a collective term for two rituals: “Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)” and “Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)”. This three-week event is the largest Pinuyumayan ritual.
Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual) is an activity training juvenile courage, and the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) implies survival in the wild and head hunting and is proof of the youths’ capacity in homeland defense. Celebration and exorcism (remavaravas) are the reunion after the event to comfort families with members (both genders) who have passed away in the year. As Mangayaw (Annual Ritual) is the biggest Pinuyumayan event, people make wreaths, prepare food, and brew wine before the event. Roadblocks are erected around the village to prevent the intrusion of evil spirits. They will also repair the assembly halls and set up the altar and the monkey sacrifice altar. In recent years, the joint ritual has been developed to become an important event for the communion among villages and to develop ethnic awareness.
Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)
The ritual is usually held at the beginning of the last ten days of December. On that day, juveniles will kill a monkey with a spear to develop their courage. Traditionally, the ritual is held one night before the killing of the monkey. Juveniles will take off their tops, camouflage their faces with charcoal ash, and hold a banana leaf to exorcise each household. As time has gone by and due to societal changes, grass monkeys have replaced real monkeys in the ritual.
Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)
The Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) is the annual hunt of the Pinuyumayan. The men’s coming of age ceremony and the grand hunting ritual are closely correlated. Men must pass the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) before they can become adults. Today, the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) is held at a fixed location for three days from December 27-31. In the ritual, the Pinuyumayan people erect camps and catch prey in the wild, and elderly people will teach them the skills for survival in the wild and hunting. At the end of the ritual, women will set up a bamboo arch of triumph outside the village entrance and wait for the men there. After the men return, the women will change their clothes for them. Everyone begins a celebration and comforts the families with members (both genders) who have passed away in the year.
Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual)
In 1982, the Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual) was introduced. The exact ritual time is not fixed but is determined by the council of communities through discussion. The joint ritual is held by different villages in turn, with contents including singing and dancing, competitions, and so on. From an event of individual villages to a joint ceremony of all Pinuyumayan communities, the Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual) has become an important event for Pinuyumayan people to develop ethnic attachment.