Girls of the Miao ethnic group dress up to celebrate Chixin Festival at Guizhou province on Oct 25. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]
Every year around October time, people of the Miao ethnic group living in Guizhou’s Danzhai county don their finest traditional garb to celebrate the first harvest of the year on Chixin Festival.
The festival is celebrated by multiple ethnic groups, including the Miao, Dong and Gelao that are commonly found in Southwest China. Since harvests may vary across different regions in the country, the festival does not have a fixed date.
Dressing up is a key part of the festivities. Miao girls, known for their fine, elaborate silver headdresses, wear silver bracelets, necklaces, earrings and delicate headwear on top of their exquisite embroidery. Traditional pleated skirts are put on and the ornaments clank as they walk.
Signature celebration activities include tasting the new rice crop, worshipping the ancestors, dancing to the Lusheng (a traditional instrument), bullfighting and taking part in Youfang – the act of seeking a lover.
“Chixin” means tasting the newly harvested rice in Chinese. On the festival, people would go to the fields and choose the most plump rice grains before hanging them up in bundles and providing them to the ancestors. Then, they will taste the new rice along with other dishes, such as fish, chicken and vegetables.
Lusheng is an ancient reed-pipe musical instrument. Girls sing and dance to the music as boys play the instruments. Some places hold a Youfang event, which refers to girls and boys singing songs to each other as a way to express their love. If both sides have the intention to make a deeper communication, they exchange love tokens, such as clothes and bracelets.
Bullfighting is considered to be the highlight of the festival to many Miao people. The bulls are carefully selected and well fed before the fight. Paper flowers are attached to the horns of bulls, drawing loud cheers when they are crumpled into pieces.