Ritual for Village Gods(堂山祭)
Dangsanje is a village ritual held in the South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces, to worship the various village gods and pray for peace and prosperity in the community.
The term dangsanje is used in inland regions including Gwangju and South Jeolla Province, while in the coastal regions, similar rituals are called dangje. Rituals are held mostly in the first half of the first lunar month and on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Great Full Moon) around midnight, or on the fifteenth day of the tenth lunar month.
The shrine for these rituals can take the form of a shrine house, a stone stacks altar, a rock or divine tree (sinmok), or a combination of several of these forms, but the most commonly observed is the divine tree.
Locations for the shrines are as varied, including the peak or the skirt of the village guardian mountain, or the village entrance. Enshrined deities include Dangsansin (Village Guardian Deity) and Dangsan Grandmother. Unlike mountainous regions, the worshipped deities in South Jeolla Province are mostly associated with land tutelary gods.
Ritual officials are selected based on the criteria of cleanness and they are required to observe taboos (geumgi) during the period leading up to the day of the ritual, avoiding funerals and killing of animals. On the gates of the officials’ homes and around the ritual venue, straw garlands are hung as taboo ropes (geumjul) and red clay (hwangto) is sprinkled to keep out impurities. Ritual costs are covered by collecting money or rice from each household or through a communal fund.
Ritual procedures generally follow those of Confucian rites, accompanied by percussion music (maegu). When a shaman officiates the ritual, it is preceded by a simple Confucian-style rite of libation (heonjak), bowing (jebae), prayer invocation (chungmun) and burning of the prayer text (soji), which is followed by the main shamanic rite. When the ritual is over, percussion performers greet the ritual officials at the village with music.
Dangsanje is sometimes followed by a tug - of -war between villagers teamed up by eastern and western neighborhoods or by gender, to predict the year’s harvest. Like other village rituals around the country, dangsanje is at once a ritual to pray for peace and prosperity in the community, and a communal festival as well.