The Buyi yearly cycle: popular festivals


The main festivals of the Buyi people are:

The Great Year festival.

They celebrate this at the same time as the Chinese Spring Festival. Days before the beginning of the festival, a pig is sacrificed and the meat smoked, glutinous rice is prepared, and new clothes are woven and knitted. On the 30th day of the last lunar month they eat the "dinner of unity", when all the members of the family have dinner together. On the night of the first day of the year, they light colored lamps. The festival still lasts ten days more. During this time, the youth of both sexes meet to sing and to court. In the street bronze drums and other musical instruments are played, while people dance their traditional dances. In some places, when the New Year begins children go to the spring or the river to fetch the called Wisdom Water.

In the area of Zhenning they celebrate the Dragon Festival (from the 3rd day to the 12th). During these days there is much singing, dancing, horse racing, and other festive activities. The dragon dance is one of the most important moments of this celebration, with several steps well defined.

In other areas they carry out the ceremony of "inviting the dragon". The people arrange the offerings for the dragon, generally food and wine. Then the priest or Bumo, sits down, reciting the "inviting the dragon" prayers. When he finishes, the chief brings two eggs that will be buried at the foot of two posts. The egg symbolizes wealth, because its yolk is associated with gold and its white with silver. While these eggs are buried, it is sung: "hold the gold and the silver that we bury, and don't let anybody take it." If, during the year, some dog or cat digs in that area, it will be killed, and the house of its owner will be exorcized.

The Third day of the Third Month festival.

This is a festival dedicated to worshipping the mountains. Particularly important for the Buyi, it is celebrated widely in the south of China. As its name indicates, it is celebrated on the third day of the third lunar month. In some places this is a festival to pay homage to the gods of the village and to the gods of the mountain. People generally gather to sing and to dance. It is celebrated in different ways according to the places they inhabit. Usually there are gatherings of all the people in the village, the old ones read aloud the rules of the village, rules that before were engraved and the people respected. Hey eat together the new millet.

In Anlong County it is celebrated on the same date as the Maoshanshu Festival, named for the place where it is said that two legendary lovers are buried. The festival lasts for three days. People meet in a festive atmosphere, singing and dancing near their tomb.

In Anshun area they think that this day is the birthday of the God King of Heavens. Everybody go to the mountain to worship him.

Around Guiyang they celebrate a kind of song contest, and they say the god will give the winner a golden throat, that can be used to sing and avoid pests and birds to harm their crops.

The Festival of the King of the Oxen.

In some places this is called the Festival of Beginning to Sow. It takes place on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. On this day every family offers glutinous rice to the King of the Oxen. They bathe their oxen and let them rest the whole day. This festival symbolizes love and gratitude for the oxen that plow the earth.

The Festival of the Songs of Chalang and Baimei.

This festival takes place on the 21st day of the sixth lunar month. According to the legends of the Buyi there were two young people, named Chalang and Baime, that loved each other dearly. But the local landowner, who wanted to marry the girl, killed the boy. When the new wedding with the landowner was about to be celebrated, the girl burned the landowner's house, throwing herself upon the flames. This festival is carried out every year in remembrance of the love of Chalang and Baimei.

Fang ji or to Visit Several Houses

This takes place every year on the first day of the sixth lunar month, when each family contributes some money and food to pat for the wine, the pig, and the chickens necessary for this ceremony. A Bumo (shaman) usually presides over the proceedings, which are primarily an invocation to request protection for the village and its people. The priest goes to every house in the village, asking aloud: "Does the demon leave or not?" Another priest answers him: "He leaves" They then place a talisman at each gate of the village so that evil remains outside. In the evening, everyone meets in the temple of the God of the Village, where a great banquet takes place during which people drink, sing and dance until late in the night.

The Sixth of the Sixth festival

In some places this is called "the small year". There are many legends about its origin, but all are different. All the Buyi of different places, however, celebrate it at the same time, as the name indicates. Festivities include the sacrifice of pigs and chickens, with people dressed in their finest clothes, singing duets and dancing to the rhythm of musical instruments.

The Demons' Festival.

This is celebrated in the seventh lunar month, from the 12th to the 16th. During these days the Bumo blesses some paper that the people hang on their doors to drive the demons away.

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