|People prepare for the clan's New Year Festival.
The family of Ly Trong Sinh in Suoi Lin hamlet celebrates the clan’s New Year Festival every three years. In the final days of the old year, family members come to his house to clean up and prepare offerings for the New Year celebration. It’s a clan celebration, but an important event for the village, so anyone can come.
Sinh said: “For the New Year Festival, women grind glutinous rice to make cakes. Men cut bamboo trees and sugar canes for worship offerings, which should always include pork to attract sufficiency and luck for the whole family. The host invites 3 or 4 shamans to conduct the ritual.”
On the 29th day of the last lunar month, the head of the clan and the shamans hang 3 worship paintings in the main hall. The men prepare a pig and the women make glutinous rice cakes.
They display 12 bamboo trees and 12 sugar canes to represent the 12 months and their wish for fertility, sufficiency, and prosperity. The head of the clan prepares gongs, drums, swords, and wooden sticks for the ceremony.
The ceremony invites deities and the souls of ancestors to join the New Year celebration with their offspring and bless them with good luck. After the ceremony, family members enjoy a meal together. Many villagers come to share the joy and dance to the music of gongs.
|A shaman prepares a worship ritual.
Dang Quyet Tien of Phieng Luong commune, said: “At the clan’s New Year Festival, everyone joins the Xoe dance circle to pray for good health and luck. At the ceremony to ward off evil spirits and diseases, 4 to 6 elder men dance the Xoe.”
On New Year’s Eve, all family members and guests attend a thanksgiving ceremony to express their gratitude to the ancestors.
Four Dao men wearing traditional clothes and carrying swords perform a ritual dance called “dispatching troops” and “withdrawing troops”. Their movements simulate laying down weapons to enjoy a peaceful life without hatred. Then the senior people teach their children some folk songs and ritual prayers.
Ly Lun in Phieng Luong commune said: “The New Year celebration begins on the last day of the old year and ends on the 2nd or 4th day of the New Year. All villagers attend the closing ceremony. Everyone takes a share of the offering as a wish for luck and prosperity.”
On the early morning of the first day of the year the house’s owner chooses 6 strong young men carrying swords, spears, and flags to dance in front of his house and then dance around the village to chase away evil spirits.
On the second day, the host family prepares a pig and makes glutinous rice cakes for the closing ceremony. Shaman Ly Van Chin of Suoi Khem hamlet said: “The New Year Festival of the Dao is a folk custom and cultural festival. Society has changed, but it cannot change our cultural identity. The Dao Tien will always uphold their New Year Festival.”