The Ra glai have a
population of more than 70,000 inhabitants,
living chiefly in southern Khanh Hoa
province and Ninh Thuan province. They are
also called Ra glay, Krai, Orang glai, No-a
na and La Vang. Their language belongs to
the Malayo-Polynesian Group.
Formely, in their nomadic life, they grew
rice arid maize in slash-and-burn plots of
land. Today, they also develop wet rice.
Hunting, picking, gathering and handicrafts
(chiefly blacksmithing and basketry) play an
important role in each family.
The Ra glai live in separate pa-lay
(villages) in a high and flat terrain, near
the source of water. Stilted houses are
their traditional abodes. It is not more
than a metre high from the ground to the
house floor. The members of the household
usually comprise the father, the mother and
unmarried children. The pa-lay is headed by
a po pa-lay (village chief) who is generally
the first land reclaimer. He is responsible
for the performance of the heaven-and-earth
praying ceremony when a serious dry spell
Matriarchy remains in
existence in Ra glai society, the children
take the family name of the mother. The
mother or the wife as house owner has the
right to decide family affairs.
If a young girl wants to marry a young man,
she will ask her parents to prepare the
wedding ceremony. In marriage, besides the
right of the mother, her younger brother has
a fairly important say.
The Ra glai has many family lineages: Cham
Ma-lec, Pi Nang, Pu Puoi, Asah, Ka-to and
others with the Cham Ma-lec being the
largest. Each family lineage has its own
history and tale retracing is origin.
The Ra glai conceive that there is a
spiritual world known as Giang including the
goodies and the devils, and believe in the
existence of the soul of dead person. They
possess stories in verses, legends and old
tales of profound historic, artistic and
educational value. Alternating songs are
popular in cultural and artistic life. The
gamut of musical instruments is large. Apart
from gongs, there are monocords, lip organs
and bamboo tube instruments.
Every year, after harvest, all villagers
gather together, and kill buffaloes and oxen
to present thanksgiving to Giang and to
enjoy the new rice.