Spring Festivals in mountain regions

VOV.VN - Spring is the season of festivals across Vietnam. For ethnic groups in mountain regions, spring festivals are opportunities to relax and pray for a good new year.

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A Rice's Soul procession of the Muong in Tan Son, Phu Tho province. (http://tanson.phutho.gov.vn)

Each ethnic group in Vietnam observes its traditional festivals with unique cultural and spiritual features. In the northwestern region the first and second lunar month sees the Long Tong or Going to the field Festival of the Tay and Nung, the Peace Praying Ritual of the Thai and Muong, and the Gau Tao Festival of the Mong.

Each ethnic group in Vietnam observes its traditional festivals with unique cultural and spiritual features. In the northwestern region the first and second lunar month sees the Long Tong or Going to the field Festival of the Tay and Nung, the Peace Praying Ritual of the Thai and Muong, and the Gau Tao Festival of the Mong.

Nguyen Ban, a cultural official in Ha Giang province, said, “New Year celebrations associated with crop praying and going to the field rituals hearten people, enhance solidarity among ethnic groups, and encourage production.”

The Crop Praying Festival of the Muong honors the genie of rice and prays for peace, health, and a bumper crop. The best sheaves of rice are offered to the genie. After the ritual, the rice grains are shared among villagers to plant a new crop. 

People from different groups then play games, dance, and sing together.  Games which imitate activities in daily life and work are the soul of the festivals.

An indispensible game among the Muong is “Throwing the Con ball”, in which they throw cloth balls through a bamboo ring attached to the top of a high bamboo pole. The cloth call is stuffed with rice which represents food and cotton, which symbolizes clothing. 

Before the game, a person with high status in the village prays to Heaven and Earth to bring rain so that the community will enjoy a good harvest.

Hoang Thi Quy, a Muong woman, said: “I’ve played it since I was small. The game preserves cultural values for the next generation.”

The Mong live mostly in Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, and Ha Giang province.  In the spring, they gather to celebrate the Gau Tao Festival to pray to genies for favorable weather, fertility, peace, and prosperity. 

After the ritual, Mong men and women play games such as pushing sticks, pound glutinous rice to make cakes, and enjoy a Khen panpipe performance.

Thao Thi Say, a Mong girl in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, attended the Gau Tao Festival at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Hanoi. “I’m proud that Mong customs are being preserved and promoted. The festivals give people more energy to begin a new crop.”

Spring festivals in mountain regions are rituals to pray for a bumper crop, a peaceful life, and sufficiency as well as festive events to promote culture and unity.

VOV5

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