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Westward migration festival of the Xibe ethnic group

Updated: 2014-04-02
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The westward-moving festival, which falls on April 18 of the lunar calendar, is an important traditional festival for the Xibe ethnic group. Before the 16th century, the Xibe people lived on the Songnen Plain and the Hulunbeir Prairie in Northern China. In 1764, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) conscripted 1,018 people from the Xibe ethnic group into the army. These people, along with their family members, totaling 3,275 people, were led by Manchu officials to Yili in Western China to open up the uncultivated land and defend the border. On April 18 of that year, all Xibe people, whether they would leave for Yili or not, gathered in their ancestral temple in Shenyang to offer sacrifices to their ancestors and have their farewell dinner. The next day, the Xibe soldiers and their family members started off on their westward journey, which lasted for one and a half years.

Since then, the Xibe people have held various activities to commemorate the journey on April 18 each year. During the festival, the Xibe people dress up and get together to sing, dance and play.