| A Thai family prepares traditional dishes for the Xip Xi Festival.
The Xip Xi Festival in Lai Chau province is a one-day event. Women make glutinous rice cakes while men clean the altars and prepare ducks for a worship offering.
The Xip Xi is an opportunity to thank the deities and land genies for providing protection, a peaceful life, and bumper crops. The festival includes a ritual to pray for their buffalos, their allies in agricultural production. A shaman feeds the buffalos some salt so the buffalos will remember the way home. He sprinkles alcohol on the buffalos’ heads to wish them good luck and to protect them from wild beasts. After the ritual, the buffalos are released into the meadow to rest. Farm tools are cleaned and readied for the next crop.
85-year-old Lo Thi Phai of Lai Chau city said: “The Thai celebrate the Xip Xi Festival with ancestor worship and buffalo and rice field rituals. They prepare offerings for the buffalo ritual in the morning and for the rice field ritual in the afternoon. The offering includes duck meat, steamed glutinous rice, alcohol, and votive paper animal shapes to hang on a pole. The ritual to pray for a bumper crop and no diseases takes place where water flows into the field.”
The Xip Xi Festival celebrates the achievements of the 1st half of the year. People, who work far away, return home for a family reunion, bringing gifts for their grandparents and parents. In front of the altar they pray to their ancestors to bless them with good health and good luck.
| The Xip Xi Festival is a family reunion event.
Chu Van Hanh of Binh Luong hamlet, Lai Chau province, said: “The Thai celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival, the Grave Visiting Festival on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month, the Insect-killing Festival on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, the Xip Xi Festival, and another Festival on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. We cook special chicken and duck dishes as offerings and to treat family and friends.”
The White Thai believe that the more relatives who attend a family celebration, the more luck they will have. Hoang Thi Nhung of Ban Xa hamlet said: “The Xip Xi Festival is an important event. My mother and I prepare our worship offering. Our grandparents tell us stories about the Xip Xi.”
Duck meat and “double-cakes” are indispensable dishes of the Xip Xi Festival. The White Thai believe that ducks carry bad luck away on the river. The double-cakes represent happy couples.
Luong Thi Chay of Deu 2 hamlet, says: “On the 14th day of the 7th lunar month, we must make double-cakes and prepare ducks to worship the ancestors. We pray for good health and a good harvest.”
The Xip Xi Festival is celebrated by every family or clan. After the rituals, they play folk games and relax.