The festivals of the Bulang


Festivals in Lincang and Simao

The Bulang in the south of Yunnan have received cultural influences from the Dai and the Chinese. Those Bulang living in the Lincang and Simao regions still retain most of their traditional culture, as their festivals demonstrate.

The God of the Stoves Festival

This festival is celebrated twice a year. The first is on New Year's Eve, when every family presents offerings of rice, meat and wine from their stoves. Afterwards they pray for a prosperous new year to come. It is celebrated the second time in February or March of the lunar calendar.

The God of the Mountains Festival

This is celebrated on the 5th and 6th of January according to the lunar calendar.
Before it takes place, a large tree from the surroundings of the village is chosen to represent the god. The family follows the priest, who approaches the tree and asks the God of the Mountains for protection while they sacrifice a chicken. With its blood, paper money is pasted onto the tree.

The God of the Land Festival

At the end of January of the lunar calendar, this ceremony is carried out by each family. Before it begins, a cap on a stake is driven into the ground, signifying that nobody should enter the village since there are celebrations and rituals taking place there.
A chicken is slaughtered and its feathers are buried on the left side of the door, while a good harvest is prayed for.

The God of the Village Festival

Taking place in lunar January and June, this festival lasts for three days.
In some villages there is a pole placed in the middle, surrounded by stones, in others villages they put 5 poles in the centre of the village. This is supposed to be the place where the God of the Village will protect them. During this festival, no activities take place in the village and no outsiders are allowed to enter. The newlyweds, the newcomers or those who have built their house during the last year hand over some candles to the head of the village to be given as presents to the God of the Village.

The Dragon Pond Festival

Celebrated on the second day of lunar February.
A Dragon Pond is selected on the outskirts of the village and next to it a large chestnut tree is chosen as the tree of the Dragon God. On the day of this festival, everyone goes to this pond with the village priests to ask the Dragon God for good rains and favorable winds. They walk around the pond three times in homage to the Dragon God.

The Bulang New Year

In marked contrast to the Chinese, the Bulang New Year is celebrated in the third lunar month. It lasts for three days.
The people stop work. Pigs and cows are slaughtered. Special food is prepared which is offered to the elderly and the ancestors as well as to the temple.
In Mojiang and Shaungjiang it is considered good luck to be the first one to offer water from the mountain springs.

The God of Fire Festival

This festival is celebrated in the third lunar month.
Although fire gives out light, heat and happiness, it can also bring about disaster. That is why each year grass and tree bark is offered up to the God of Fire.

The Dragon Tree Festival

Celebrated in July of the lunar calendar in most locations. However, in Mojiang it is celebrated every three years on the horse day of the second lunar month. It is one of their most important festivals. No outsiders are allowed in and no other activities are permitted except those related to the festival. A cow and two white cocks are offered to a chestnut tree that represents the village god from whom they ask protection. For three days after this festival no trees can be cut.

The Kula Festival

No fixed date.
Kula is the God of Water, with a human head and the body of a snake. It is able to control the rain, storms, and floods. Therefore, it can bring people either good or evil. This festival is celebrated to avoid the harm that the evil can bring. Each family takes some objects of daily use, such as saucepans and parasols, which are thrown into the water for the god.

The festivals of the Bulang of Xishuangbanna

Most of the Bulang in Xishuangbanna Prefecture are Buddhist. They have received tremendous influence from the Dai, but they nevertheless retain many vestiges of their ancient culture and tradition.

Their most important festivals are:

The Shela, Tanshela or Taluoluo Festival.

Celebrated in the first month of the lunar year, this festival is held to honor the deceased relatives. Each family collects banana skins, the monks write the relatives' names on it in the Dai language. Meat is offered in four places: on the relatives' graves, at the temple, at the village gate and at the centre of the village.
On the second day, gifts are presented at the temple and those who bring them sleep there, as it is believed that, on that night, they might be able to meet their deceased relatives.

The Gangyong Festivity in honor of the Bamboo Rat

Held in January or June of the lunar calendar, with no fixed date.
According to legend, the bamboo rat was the animal that handed over cereal grains to the Bulang, and helped them to develop their system of agriculture. That is why every year the rat is venerated on this festival day. The young go up the mountain and catch a bamboo rat. They tie it to a stick and decorate it with flowers. Two men, carrying the stick, go round the village. After prayers the people reach the house of the head of the village, cut the head of the bamboo rat off, and deliver it to their chief, who will cut the meat into small portions that are shared among the families of the village, who praise it beside the family god.

The Water Splashing Festival

This famous festival, which clearly reflects the influence of the Dai, is held on the 29th day of February according to the lunar calendar. It is a religious holiday in honor of the ancestors and lasts for three days.

The Festival of Reading Scriptures

This Buddhist festival is held on the15th of August according to the Dai calendar (lunar May). Starting early in the morning everyone goes to the temple bearing gifts.

The Closing of the Door Festival

From 15 / 09 Dai calendar (mid lunar June)
Another traditional Buddhist festival, held on the 15th day of the ninth month of the Dai calendar (lunar June), on this day the village people lock themselves inside their villages and fields to concentrate on farming activities.

The Opening of the Door Festival

This festival, held during the ninth lunar month, marks the end of the harvest. The doors are then opened in order for the people to enjoy life. At this time the young start their courtship season.

The Cloth Taking Festival

Around the tenth lunar month, on a date fixed by the head of the village and the priest,
every family in the village buys a yellow piece of cloth about 4 to 8 meters long and get together at the Zhaoman or headman's house, who escorts them all to the temple. It is a day off work, pigs and cows are slaughtered and all kinds of banquets are prepared. At night the young people sing and dance.

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