|Ha Nhi men and women make a swing at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism. (Photo: Lam Thanh/VOV4)
The Rain Festival often lasts 4 days. After ancestral worship, the Ha Nhi people hang two ropes on the main beam in the middle of the house to make a swings. Only children are allowed to ride on the indoor swings. At the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism, a swing of up to 7-meters high is built in the front yard of the Ha Nhi community center for all people to play.
Young Ha Nhi men are making swings, while the women sing to cheer them on. They’re making three-pronged bamboo forks to hang the ropes. The swing is firm and strong for people to sit or stand on the seat. While the men make the swings, the women are cutting a thorny branch to put under the bamboo poles.
“The thorny branch wards off evils before people ride on the swings. They want to have a safe game, where no one will fell or hurt. No one is allowed to ride on the swing before the village chief practices rituals to chase away evils,” said Vu Phuong Thao from Lai Chau province’s Art Center.
|A thorny branch is believed to be able to ward off evil spirits.
Ma Ly Pha, the village chief, hosts the ritual. He puts a thorny branch on the swings and pushes it while reading the prayer.
Bad evils, don’t stay here
Come back to your place in the forests, springs, and brooks
Don’t wander around here to harm people, buffalos, cows, pigs, and chicken
Go away quickly!
When the thorny branch falls on the ground, it means the evils have gone and people can play safely.
|The Ha Nhi believe that the higher they fly, the more good luck they will have. (Photo: Lam Thanh/VOV4)
Go Nhu, a Ha Nhi woman, said two persons ride the swings together. They should be strong to ride as high as possible. The audience will cheer the highest swinging.
“A person is standing and the other is sitting. The higher they fly, the more good luck they will have for themselves and their families," said Nhu.
Ma Ly Pha, a village chief, said that the Ha Nhi considers swinging to be much more than just a game.
“Our ancestors said that our farming activities in the year may accidentally effect nature and deities. We have to apologize. Riding on a swing is a kind of punishment to hang ourselves on the air,” he explained.