March Fair of Bai People

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 18, 2021

People of the Bai Ethnic Group enjoy boisterousness, and they hold a large variety of festivals during the year. Among these, the March Fair of Bai Ethnic Group is one of the most famous and festive ones. March Fair of Bai Ethnic Group is both a well-known grand meeting for interflow of commodities of Yunnan Province and a traditional great festival of Bai ethnic minorities. It’s held from March 15th to 21st of the lunar calendar annually at the foot of Mount Zhonghe of Mount Diancang in the west of Dali City. The March Fair used to be a Buddhist ceremony. As Dali has been the center for interflow of commodities in south Yunnan, the March Fair has developed to be a grand meeting for interflow of commodities and mass recreational activities. In the year 1991, the fair was reputed as the March Fair of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

The March Fair is the largest gathering place of commodity transactions in western Yunnan Province. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, businessmen of Sichuan, Tibet, and many other provinces would go to Dali to participate in this March Fair. During the March Fair, businessmen and common people from far and near flock there to participate in the festival. There are huge crowds of people everywhere, and a wide variety of products including everything that one can expect to find, such as medicinal materials, food, furniture, and livestock. According to traditional customs, people trade with others in the daytime and enjoy singing and dancing in the evening, which is boisterous and exciting.

After years of development, the March Fair has become an annual flourishing grand meeting for the exchange of goods and materials as well as a recreational celebration, which plays an important part in strengthening national unity and promoting economic and cultural exchanges between ethnic minorities. People of various ethnic minorities, such as Han, Yi, Nakhi, Zang, Lisu, and Hui, are in splendid attire and gather together at the foot of Mount Zhonghe. There are more abundant activities, including singing in an antiphonal style, dancing, shooting, horse racing and all kinds of sports balls competitions. Besides, the opera of the Bai minority and Huadeng opera are performed.

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