Traditional festivals in Sapa Lao Cai

Nga Do
Sapa tours are not only memorable by the beautiful natural scenery but also because of the colorful cultural life of the upland people. There are 6 ethnic groups living together: Kinh, H'Mong, Red Dao, Tay, Giay, Vice Commune. Each ethnic group has its own cultural characteristics, from which a lot of traditional festivals are formed in Sapa.

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.

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.

The festival takes place in a rather flat field at the end of the hamlet. To symbolize affluence, a village elderly places a plate of boiled eggs, which has been dyed red, a plate of silver jewellery and a plate of red steam sticky rice, while an unmarried girl places a Con (shuttlecock) on the altar to offer to the deities, thereby assuring a good harvest. The wizard wearing a buttoned long dress burns incense joss-sticks and says prayers in his ethnic language telling the gods that all villagers are going to the field. He invites the village’s saint to attend the festival and bless the villagers with serenity and prosperity. When the worshipping ceremony finishes, drums, gongs and Pi le clarinets are played to announce the beginning of the games.

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.

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.

Nhan Song and Nao Song Festival in Giang Ta Chai

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 the master of the ceremony carry out the ritual and read the regulation, villagers have the right to discuss and talk to each other.

Besides the famous festival on Sapa, there are many other festivals. Each festival has its own unique activities, both expressing the traditional folk cultural life and the meaning of the aspirations of the people of highland Sapa looking forward to a life of happiness. Sapa adventure tours always brings you the freshest and most exciting feelings.

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