At the start of planting season, Kapampangan farmers during my time used to practice the ritual of paráya (blood sacrifice) before their hoes touched the ground during the pámanaktak or clearing of the soil. A chicken is usually sacrificed, its blood dripping down to the earth in the hope that Indûng Tíbuan, the earth mother, will once again be fertile that year.
In the middle of the rice field where the paráya was performed, a dalungdung or a small wall-less hut made of ílib grass (Saccharum spontaneum) and bamboo is built. The dalungdung was a good place for us to play when we were kids since it was too small for an adult person to move about. It was just big enough for two people to sit on or one adult person to lie down on. I once asked an old farmer why they made the hut so small. Did they build it for us kids to play in? The old man replied that it was built for the banté or guardian. As a kid, I always thought that the banté was one lazy person because the dalungdung was always empty throughout the day everyday. When I pointed that out, I was whacked on the head by my older cousin for being rude. He reprimanded me with the harsh threat: Manúnû ka bugók (You will be punished by the núnû, you idiot). The banté or guardian of the rice field turned out to be the núnû or ancestral spirits. The dalungdung actually turns out to be a shrine to the ancestors.
After the pamamálut or rice harvest, the ritual of Lasak Dalungdung is practiced. Part of the first rice harvest is placed in the dalungdung. Bundled dried rice straws are heaped around the dalungdung and the whole thing is burned as a Dáun or offering to the núnû or ancestral spirits. A feast then follows.
Dáun is defined by Fray Diego Bergaño in his Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance as a noun which meant an offering, gift or oblation. Bergaño also gives the example Pamidáun métay or ‘offering to the dead’, who are of course, the núnû or ancestral spirits. Now Dáun has become the Kapampangan word for the Catholic feast of All Saints Day celebrated annually every 1st of November. On that day, Kapampangan Catholics flock to the cemeteries to light candles and offer prayers in memory of the dead. It becomes a festive occasion that turns out to be a big family reunion. Relatives who have lived far away travel all the way to where their ancestors are buried and rekindle their blood ties to those who were left behind.
Sadly, the meaning of the word Dáun is lost to the majority of present day Kapampangan because it has been associated for centuries with the Catholic feast of All Saints Day. Plus, the word is now rarely used except among the older generation. Due to the dominance of Filipino (Tagalog) language and the influence of schools and the media, the word Dáun in reference to the Catholic feast of All Saints Day is slowly being replaced by the Tagalog word undas.
Bergaño, Diego. (1732). [Reprinted 1860]. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. Manila: Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier.
Bergaño, Diego. (1732). [English translation 2007]. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. [English translation by Venancio Q. Samson]. Angeles City, Pampanga: Center for Kapampangan Studies.
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