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Enjoying Spring in Tay Bac


 When Spring arrives, Tay Bac (the entire north-western region of Vietnam) seems to be awaken after a long sleep with peach and Ban flowers blooming. It becomes more bustling and animated with traditional festivals and markets of the ethnic groups, attracting many visitors both at home and abroad.
For the Mong ethnic people, the traditional Tet (New Year Festival) is considered the greatest and most sacred one in the year, which includes several religious ceremonies. According to their belief, the Sun is the supreme genie who brings about the light as well as life to humanity so Tet is the festival to call the Sun Genie to come back. During the three-day festival, the hamlet is boisterous and exhilarating with many cultural activities. Children joyfully participate in traditional folk games, such as playing Tu lu, “Dragon hatching eggs” and throwing Pao (colourful fabric ball) while couples visit the wife’s parents to express their gratitude for giving birth, the old visit families and friends to wish each other luck and good health in the New Year and young people go out to look for their life partners.

Visiting the hamlets of Mong ethnic people in the border district of Phong Tho in Lai Chau Province , 300km from Moc Chau District, tourists will have a chance to attend the Gau Tao Festival that aims at praying for having more children and family happiness.

The Thai ethnic people in Phong Tho District also organize the Then Kin Pang Festival at Nam Lum Stream to thank Then for treating locals who had become infected with a variety of diseases. The festival includes many folk games including the animated water splashing that is held to pray for rain, hence bringing a bumper crop. At the festival the locals will splash water on each other and visitors. It is believed that the more you get wet, the more luck will come your way.

At the time when the white Ban flower and wild Bo ma flower that is used as an offering to genies, are in blossom, the Thai ethnic people in Muong Sang Commune, Mai Chau District hold the Hamlet Forbidden Festival to thank genies for the protection and clement weather they provided in the past year and pray for an abundant crop in the next year.

When spring crosses over the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range to Dao San Plateau in Lai Chau Province, the community of Dao ethnic people starts selecting lucky days to hold the Tu Cai Festival that marks the maturity of boys in the hamlet. It is the most important event in the life of the Dao men and is usually followed by marriage. Going upstream of the Da River to the hamlets of the Ha Nhi ethic people in the border commune of Ka Lang, Muong Te District, Lai Chau Province, tourists will mingle in the festive atmosphere of the Ga Ma Thu Festival that aims at thanking genies for granting the locals with abundant rice crops and health. During the festive days, the tourists will be treated as sons returning to the hamlet after a long time of living away. The elder villagers will present them a red-coloured egg with a hope that the genies of the Ha Nhi ethnic people will follow and protect them in the New Year.

Anywhere throughout the north-western area, tourists will see happy faces and glances of ethnic people, full of belief in life and a bright future and receive their warm welcome.
(Source: Vietnam Pictorial)

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