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Exploring several traditional festivals of ethnic groups in Sapa

Quet Lang Festival of Xa Pho ethnic group

This festivals often takes place in February of lunar calendar (on the date represents horse, goat, or human) to wish for a safety, healthy and wealthy New Year for human being and cattle.

When coming to the festival, each person takes along a bowl of rice, a chicken, money, two bars of incenses and a bottle of wine. For those who contribute dogs, goats will be rewarded by being given a day of work with the help of people in the village. When the festival day comes, all men in the village take all the offerings to a ground near the village. As assigned, agile and strong men will slaughter pigs, chickens, goats, and dogs. The master of the festival (the wizard) will hold a wooden sword in his hand, a small branch of peach leaves, rub soot on the face and then comes to each hamlet to perform the house-cleaning ceremony for the whole village. When coming into one’s house, the wizard will pour out a cup of wine and put it onto the altar of the family, and mumble the names of all members in that family. After that he takes on the wooden sword and brandish around the house, the family assigns a member to follow the wizard and use corn seeds (grilled corn) to throw over the head of the wizard.


“Nao Cong” Festival

Before the 1950s, Ta Van had a three-compartment temple which is located by the suspension bridge across to Ta Van Giay village. This temple has become the place for celebrating the Nao Cong Festival of people in Muong Hoa Valley. Annually, in June of lunar calendar (often the date represents the dragon), ethnic groups of the H’mong, Dao, Giay in Muong Hoa gather together to the Temple to join in the Nao Cong Festival. Each family assigns a representative, can be man, woman of young or old age to take part in the festival. The festival consists of three main parts: the god worship ritual, announcement of general regulations of the regions and the last one is dining party.


Tet nhay Festival

Tet nhay Festival is an important one of the Dao group in Ta Van which is prepared carefully. Before the festival, male youth revise their dancing skill while the female ones embroider new clothes. This festival often takes place at the houses of the village’s leader. All members in this extended family gather at the leader’s house to help prepare for the holiday.

Tet nhay Festival is the combination of various traditional popular forms of arts including dancing and singing. The lyric of the songs tend to mention the historical story of the family and the merit of their ancestors. Besides, there are many kinds of pictures for worship, wood sculpture works, etc which represent the traditional values of native people.


“Nhặn Sồng” & “Nào Sồng”Festival

This is the festival of the Red Dao ethnic group in Giang Ta Chai (Ta Van – Sapa). Formerly, on good days of the first lunar month every year, the Red Dao people will carry out the Nhan Song Festival in the forbidden forest of the Village to pray for favorable weather condition. However, from the beginning of the 1950s, due to the population growth leading to the increase of deforestation, the Dao people only carry out the festival in the years when the forest is destroyed much. The offering in the festival is a pig (small or big depending on the number of people participating in the festival). This pig is in turn raised by each household in the village.

The place of this festival is the forbidden forest – where people worship the God of Land (he is supposed to stay in a big tree or rock in the forest). After Mr “Chu Long” – the master of the ceremony carry out the ritual and read the regulation, villagers have the right to discuss and talk to each other.


Gau Tao Festival of the H’mong

Gau Tao is an important festival of the H’mong to ask for happiness or longevity. If a family in the group has no children or has all children of either males or females, then the master of that household may ask the wizard to celebrate the Gau Tao festival- this is to ask for happiness. If another family whose members are always ill, the children are not living well or the crops often fail, etc. may also ask the wizard to hold the Gau Tao festival – this is to ask for luck for health and longevity.

In Sapa, the festival tends to take place on the first day, January of lunar year. In Muong Khuong, the festival opens on the third of the first lunar month. After the wizard perform the opening worship, everybody will then participate in games and competitions.


Roong Pooc Festival of the Giay ethnic group

This is the festival of the Giay people which often takes place in the first lunar month. People celebrate this festival to ask for good crops, health, and favorable weather condition. Originally, this festival is the tradition of the Giay people; however, recently, it has been spreading and become the popular festival for ethnic minority groups living in Muong Hoa Valley. People start to go to the festival very early in the morning. There are the H’mong from Hau Thao, Lao Chai, the Dao from Ho Village, Phung Village, and many visitors from Sapa town also come to take part in this festival.