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Celebrating the Miao New Year in Leishan

By Yang Fan ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2016-11-08

Celebrating the Miao New Year in Leishan

Women of the Miao ethnic group showcase their costume at a parade celebrating the Miao New Year on Nov 4. [Photo/wsgz.gog.cn]

More than 150,000 people of the Miao ethnic group attended a carnival in Leishan county to celebrate the Miao New Year Festival on Nov 4.

Known as “nongx niangx” in Miao dialect, the festival is the most important among Miao folk events.

Miao New Year is celebrated at different times in different regions, but is generally held somewhere from the ninth to the eleventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, after rice crops have been harvested.

In addition to harvest celebration activities, worship ceremonies are also held to express gratitude to ancestors and nature – as Miao people believe the two have blessed them.

Leishan is located in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture in Guizhou province and is home to a majority of Miao people. More than 30 Miao villages of different branches are scattered around the county.

The festival was enlisted as an item of intangible cultural heritage by the State Council in 2008.

Though the tradition has been celebrated for thousands of years, Leishan began holding official events in 2000 and has since developed it into a tourism brand to create much-needed extra income for locals.

To mark the festive period this year, an exhibition of Miao culture was held in Beijing from Nov 3 to 6, allowing people in capital to experience the unique ethnic culture. The exhibition displayed costumes, dancing, songs and products from Leishan. Festival galas were also held simultaneously in Leishan and Beijing and available to view online.

The month-long celebratory event will feature 17 activities, the highlight of which are parades through towns and villages, where revelers, dressed in silver finery, will dance to reed-pipe and show off their Miao embroideries, silver forging skills and other intangible cultural heritages.  

The Miao people have the tradition to put on an array of folk activities on the festival. Women would put on their most fine embroidery and silver ornaments, which clank as they dance to the music played by the boys with reed-pipes.

Providing worship to ancestors is an indispensable part of the event. Sacrifices including pig’s head, fish, chicken and wine are laid out on the altar.

Other spectacles include bull fights, chicken fights, shooting and pole-climbing which often attract thousands of people.

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