Youths from many villages in Yang Bac commune, Dak Po district in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, are raising funds to preserve and promote gong culture.

In each village, the People's Committee lends farm land to each group of youths to grow crops and raise cattle. The profits are mostly earmarked for buying new gongs for their communities.

In Jung village, for example, youths exchanged two buffaloes, 20 million VND (940 USD), for a set of gongs. Similarly, nearby Bung Bang, Kroi and Jro Dong Villages all have their own set of gongs, which are worth up to million dong each.

"We have loved the sound of gongs since we were still in our mothers' wombs. Playing gongs is also the major cultural activity of local youth during festivals. All the youth in my village are able to play gongs. Each commune consists of 15 villages, each of which has established its own gong group," said Dinh-DRap, Secretary of the Youth Union in Yang Bac village.

Truong Trung Tuyen, Secretary of Youth Union in Dak Po Village added: "Gongs are not only a musical instrument, but a means of communication and valuable family heirlooms. The idea therefore should be expanded widely in the Central Highlands."

Gong culture has already been recognised as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and listed as national-intangible heritage by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

It is also considered part of the spiritual life of ethnic people in the Central Highlands, so its preservation is of great importance.

According to Professor Tran Van Khe, a cultural and musical researcher of traditional Vietnamese music, youth play a key role in preserving gong music.

A gong festival is held every four years in the province and every two years in Gia Lai. These are the effective ways of passing on knowledge.

Gia Lai Cultural-Arts Vocational School and boarding schools in the province are introducing gong culture into their curriculum.

According to recent statistics, there are 5,655 sets of gongs, of which 932 are considered precious. All are kept in the province.-VNA