Some Bai Festivals


Third Month Fair

This is one of the most important festivals celebrated in China, and one of the oldest. For most of the peoples who live in south China, this is the major yearly festival. For the Bai, it is the most important festival. It is celebrated every year in the third lunar year, from 15th to 20th. Its origin goes back to the Nanzhao Kingdom, when according to the legend, the goddess Guanyin put an end to a demon that ate up people's eyes. It takes place in the Mount Diancang, west of Dali city, although the whole region is with festive atmosphere. Everywhere there are dances, theater, sports, and horse races.

Old Chinese celebrated also in the third day of the third lunar month the Festival of Xi. "It was the custom of the ancient people to pay homage to the water god and entertain themselves by the water on March the third of the lunar calendar." (1)

Torch Festival

Celebrated in lunar June 24th. It is a festival extended widely in the South of China, especially among the peoples who speak languages related to the Yi. There are a lot of legends about the origin of this festival. Its origin must be very old. They hang auspicious calligraphies, light torches, and at night they leave to the fields to expel the insects, remembering one myth who tells how in the beginning of the history the human beings went to their fields torches to burn the plagues sent by the gods. Though this myth relates the Bai Torch Festival with the Yi one, it can hide the fact of an older astral origin: The symbol of the fire just in the first day of summer.


There are a lot of dances among the Bai. All their festivals the people enjoy themselves singing and dancing. Chinese influence on the Bai is manifested also in their dances. The most popular dance among the Bai is the Lion Dance that was originated in the time of the Kingdom Nanzhao.

Dance of the Stick and the Flower, or of the Hero's Whip.

It is a very characteristic dance of the Bai. They hit in a fine bamboo nine nails to intervals, and in them some coins. When they begin to hit the body of the bamboo, like a tambourine, the jingle of the coins produces a sound.

(1) Luo Jingguo.- A selection of classical Chinese essays from Guwenguanzhi. Beijing. 2005

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