Chinese Ethnic Minority Festivals
Chinese ethnic minority festivals are a crucial element of Chinese culture. There are fifty-five ethnic minority groups in China, and many of them have their distinct festivals and special festive customs for celebration. Chinese ethnic minority festivals vary according to their different geographical environment, manners and customs, religion, and local culture.
The Naadam Festival is a traditional Mongolian festival andone of the most important Chinese ethnic minority festivals. "Naadam" literally means entertainment in Mongolian and the festival is for celebrating the harvest. The Naadam Fair is the core of the Naadam Festival, which is held in summer usually on June 4th in the Chinese lunar calendar and lasts around 7-10 days. The fair stages singing and dancing performances, archery, wrestling, and horseracing. Presently, the Festival has become one of the most popular Chinese ethnic minority festivals and attracts many overseas travellers. There is a grand Naadam Fair in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.
The Torch Festival is another popular traditional Chinese ethnic minority festival, which is celebrated among several ethnic groups in southwestern China, such as the Yi, Bai, Hani, Lisu and Naxi. The origin of the festival is related with the worship of fire by ancestors, who believed that fire had the power to repel insects, drive away evils and to protect crop growth. Some Chinese ethnic minorities have the tradition of arranged marriages, therefore it can be a good opportunity for young people to meet their prospective spouses. During the festival, torches are erected in front of every household and a pile of sticks several meters high is erected in the centre square. When night falls, people of all ages come forward to ignite the pile. Cheerful flames leap up to the sky, crackling and spluttering, filling the world with rejoicing.
Sister's Meal Festival
The Sister's Meal Festival is also a well-known one that is celebrated mainly by Miao (Hmong) people. It falls on March 15th in the Chinese lunar calendar. This Festival is a special Chinese ethnic minority festival for women. On this day, women cook sticky rice called "Sister's Meal", which is decorated with wild flowers. They also exchange gifts to bless each other for an auspicious life. After that, Miao women will join in with the various entertainment and sport activities that the men and boys take part in such as singing folk songs, playing the lusheng (a folk music instrument), dancing, bullfighting, and boating, among others. On this day, everyone wears ceremonious Miao ethnic minority costumes with exquisite silver decoration.
Water Splashing Festival
The Water Splashing Festival is another one of the most ceremonious Chinese ethnic minority festivals for Dai people in Yunnan, and is also celebrated by many other ethnic groups. It falls in mid April and lasts 3-7 days, which is also the period of the Dai people's New Year. In the morning, Dai people dress in festive costumes and go to the temples to clean Buddha, and then they start to splash each other with water. In local culture, the more water people splash on you, the more they respect you, like you and bless you.