Yunnan Province lying in the Southwest China has 26 ethnic minorities such as Yi, Bai, Dai, Hani, Miao, Hui, Naxi, Lahu, Jingpo, Yao, Achang,etc. It has the largest number of ethnic minorities in China which promotes its colorful culture and customs.
Every ethnic minority has its special festivals and celebrations. Numerous folk celebrations are held during the festivals in Yunnan.
1. Water Splashing Festival
Water Splashing Festival is the grandest festival for Dai ethic minority which is mainly celebrated in Xishuangbanna Prefecture. The festival is Dai people’s New Year which is around April 15 in the Gregorian calendar every year. Usually, the celebrations last three days and the third day is the New Year in Dai’s calendar. In the morning, all the Dai people wearing their festive costumes go to temple to wash the Buddha with clear water. Then they begin to express their sincere blessings by splashing water to each other. The clear water with best wishes can help people get rid of diseases and difficulties. People are pleased with being poured water which means more blessings.
2. The Torch Festival
The Torch Festival is one of the Yi people’ traditional festivals, originated in Yi regions in Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan Provinces. Bai, Naxi, Jino, Lahu ethnic minorities also celebrate the important festival. Naxi Torch Festival in Lijiang is the most famous festival among all the celebrations.
The celebrations are held on June 24 or June 25 in Chinese lunar year. A three-day celebration is with some different activities. People light a big torch or a bonfire in front of the house in order to pray the new life in the next year. The torch or the bonfire should be on for 3 days. Some young men go through the farmland and hills with small torches to pray a bumper harvest in the new year. Besides, there are horse racing, bullfighting, archery, wrestling, tug-of-war, swing matches and other entertainment activities during the Torch Festival.
3. Dage Festival
On February 8th in Chinese lunar calendar, Yi ethic minority in Dayao County collect all kinds of colorful flowers and tie up into flower arches or flower pergolas which symbolize a good luck. People also decorate cattle, sheep, houses, and fields with wild flowers. Yi people will get together to sing and dance with the instrument Lusheng.
There is a wide known legend of Miyilu who is a beautiful and smart girl. In order to help other girls get rid of getting harm by the bully she made a pretense of marrying him. In the end she died because the bully and she drank the poisonous wine in the wedding. Yi people in this region hold a grand flower arrangement in commemoration of the goodness Miyilu.
4. March Fair
March Fair, also call Sanyuejie in Chinese is celebrated by Bai people in Dali which is another famous place after Lijiang in Yunnan Province. The celebrations are held in the ancient Dali town during March 15 to March 21 in Chinese lunar year. The March Fair of Bai ethic minority is evolved from in ancient Buddha temple fair with a history of more than 1000 year. There are big trade fair, horse racings, dances during the March Fair. Thousands of people take part in the trade fair when the festival comes.
5. Miao people’s Huashan Festival
Huashan Festival is one of the most important festivals to Miao People. The time of this festival varies in different places. Usually, Huashan Festival in South Yunnan is celebrated from Spring Festival to January 15th in Chinese lunar Calendar. However, the celebrations are held on May 5th in Chinese lunar year in Kunming, Chuxiong and Zhaotong in Yunnan.
A large number of Miao people get together in the dance ground with festive costumes. Young people can express their love to each other. There is a ceremonious dance in the centre of the ground. Additionally, the celebrations also include climbing the pole, horse racing, bullfighting and archery matches.
6. Lisu Sword Pole Festival
February 7th in Chinese lunar year is Lisu people’s Sword Pole Festival. The celebrations for the festival are held in Lisu hamlets along the Nu River (Nujiang in Chinese). A few strong young men jump into a sea of fire with bare feet and perform a variety of stunts. They also climb a pole with sharp swords without shoes and act some difficult moves on the dangerous pole. These performances are not only a kind of folk traditions and customs activities, but also show people the Lisu people’s extremely hard and bitter life experience and their indomitable spirits. At night, there are dances and singing around a bonfire.