Zhuang People is the largest minority among Chinese minorities. The third day of the third month on Chinese lunar calendar is Zhuang People’s traditional folk song festival. With a long history, this festival was originated in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. It has been celebrated in Nanning, the provincial capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region since 1983. Zhuang People will eat five-colored sticky rice, sing songs, hold bull fighting and throw embroidered balls.
As Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has the largest number of Zhuang People in China, it is not only famous for its marvelous karst landscape, but also widely known for its rich minorities’ culture, especially Zhuang People’s culture. Travelers can take part in singing songs with Zhuang People during the Song Festival falling on the third day of the third month on Chinese lunar calendar.
On March 3rd in Chinese lunar calendar, Zhuang people dressed with festival clothes to get together to sing songs in antiphonal style in the mountains. Most of lyrics are spontaneous with a theme of love, from shallow to deep and involve broad. Young men and women also take part in touching colored eggs and throwing embroidered balls. Young girls who are not married can throw an embroidered ball to choose a husband telling by sing songs. The man will come to visit the girl in the second day to propose marriage with the embroidered ball threw by the girl.
Besides, older Zhuang people will have a song match by sing songs as well. There are also a large-scale bamboo dance for a lot of people and bull fighting. Travelers can also see a lot of Zhuang brocade which is an important element to Zhuang people’s life and culture.
Nowadays, Zhuang people’s Song Festival is more and more popular and magnificent. It is a widely celebrated by Zhuang people in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It has been a legal holiday to celebrate in Guangxi since 2014. The festival plays an important role in Zhuang people’s culture and is an influential national song festival.
Travelers can go to Wuming County(武鸣县) in Nanning to enjoy the traditional folk song festival and take part in their dances. There are also dog fighting, cock fighting and bird fighting in Lingshui Scenic Area (灵水风景区). There are regular buses from Anji Bus Station (安吉客运站)in Nanning to Wuming County with a ticket 12 to 15 CNY. It is about a 40-minute journey.
Local Flavor Food
During the festival, there are some special food to eat to pay homage to Liu Sanjie. Five-colored sticky rice is the most famous food. People use Peristrophe roxburghiana, huanghua grass, purple koali plant and maple leaves juices to dye glutinous rice into red, yellow, purple and black colors. The Five-colored sticky rice is a symbol of good luck, happiness and a golden harvest. Zhuang minority welcome people to visit and also give a gift with home-made glutinous rice and prepared meat to visitors during the Song Festival.
Jiaoye ciba(glutinous rice cake with banana leaves), Round glutinous rice cake(Nuomi Bing), Taro Cake(Yutougao), Chicken in natural juice(Baizhanji) and Lemon Duck(Ningmengya) are still popular local food to eat during the festival.
The Song Festival is also called Gexu Festival(歌圩节) which means to go to the song square to sing songs. Zhuang people devote themselves to agriculture from the ancient time. In order to break a busy and boring farm life, Zhuang people started to sing songs to each other in the farm. People express their love of nature and life, and then make friends and find their husband or wife by singing songs. So every Zhuang person can sing songs.
There are several legends about the origin of the Song Festival, however, Liu Sanjie is the most famous and recognized one. It is said that Liu Sanjie is the Zhuang song celestial in the Tang Dynasty. She had a wonderful voice, sang great and usually mocked landlords’ exploitation and oppression by sing folk songs. She was a popular song celestial among the poor but a thorn in the rich's flesh. One year on the thrid day of the third month on Chinese lunar calendar, Liu Sanjie went to a mountain for firewood, people sent by the landlords cut off the yamato she climbed and made her fall into a valley and die. In order to commemorate her, people got together to sing songs for 3 days and nights, which becomes the Song Festival today.