Southwestern China Feature
Festivals of Guizhou
Since the province is comprised of various ethnic groups—including the Dong, Hui, Yao, Zhuang, and Miao peoples—Guizhou is a gallery of traditional customs. Festivals are held throughout the year in Guiyang and elsewhere in the province. Many of these festivals are named after the dates on which they're held. These dates are according to a lunar calendar, so the festival called Eighth Day of the Fourth Month is not on April 8, but on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month (usually sometime in May).
Siyueba, which translates as Eighth Day of the Fourth Month, is when the Miao, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Zhuang, Yi, and other peoples of the province celebrate spring. Similar to Mardi Gras (but without the drinking or bawdy behavior), the festival is a major holiday in the region. Guiyang is a great place to check out the festival. The area around the fountain in the city center erupts with music, dancing, and general merrymaking.
An important traditional festival of Guiyang's Buyi population is Liuyueliu, or Sixth Day of the Sixth Month. Held in midsummer, as the name implies, this festival sees thousands of Buyi people from the region gathering on the banks of the Huaxi River. As the story goes, a beautiful Buyi maiden embroidered an image of mountains and rivers of immense beauty. It was so inspiring that a miscreant plotted to steal it, and on the sixth day of the sixth lunar month he sent his minions to take it by force. The maiden cast her embroidery into the air, where it was transformed into the beautiful mountains and rivers seen here today.
Among the Miao people who live in and around Kaili a bullfight is a contest between the bulls themselves. The Miao Bullfight Festival traditionally takes place between the planting of rice seedlings and their harvest a few months later, usually between the sixth and eighth lunar months. Owners of bulls meet beforehand to size up the competition prior to agreeing to the fight. The atmosphere on fight day is lively, with drinking, music, and exchanging of gifts. Fireworks entice the bulls into combat until one falls down or runs away.
An important fertility festival among the Miao people is the Sister's Meal Festival, when unmarried women harvest rice from the terraced fields and prepare a special dish of sticky rice colored blue, pink, and yellow. Men arrive to serenade the women, and the women offer gifts of rice wine and small packets of rice wrapped in cloth. In the evening, women dress up for a night of dancing.
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