Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Mong ethnic people celebrate New Year festival

Vietnam’s Mong ethnic minority group celebrates the New Year festival (Tet) following their own calendar, which has 12 months in a year without an inter-calendary month. This year, their Tet falls on Dec. 27.

On the first day of Tet, Mong people pay homeage to their ancestors with offerings of boiled, fried and grilled chicken.

Mong people in the northwestern region welcome Tet during three days. They often put their working tools on or beside the altar. In their tradition, everything has a soul so they stamp serrated paper on their tools to ward off ghosts and devils.

Mong people organise a ritual festival called Gau Tao on a large area, which attracts many local people to various folk games, such as stick pushing, bow shooting and tug of war.

In the cold weather, family members gather around a fire and taste Banh Day (a kind of round sticky rice cake), which is an indispensable part of Mong people’s Tet.

Banh Day is made of best-quality sticky rice, which is grown on the best plot of land.

During the Tet holiday, Mong girls and boys rejoice in the beautiful sounds of pan-pipes, perform dances and joyfully participate in folk games such as shuttlecock. These festive activities may last for a month, and then Mong people return to their daily work on fields in the mountains.

There is a special game on this occasion - Lay Pao. Girls often throw balls made of fabric scraps, 5-7cm in diameter, to boys, who then throw them back to their partners. As usual girls will throw the ball to those boys they like.

Mong ethnic minority people have their own language and long-standing culture. Pan-pine playing and umbrella dancing are two typical features of their rich culture.

On the Tet occasion, all people wear new clothes.


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