There are many ethnic minorities in Sapa, Lao Cai province, so there are so many strange and unique festivals that you have not known. The Worshiping forest festival of the Dao Tuyen ethnic group is a significant custom with many interesting rituals.
The worshiping forest festival with ecological and educational values
The festival is usually held in the village’s forbidden forest. Two ancient trees considered as the “father tree” and “mother tree” worshiped offerings including a special tray with “a tray of soil and water (called “Pat chieng” in Nung language). The offerings used to worship martyrs sacrificing for the country and people defending the village. At the ceremony of worship, the tray of offerings is displayed under the trees. A worshiper read the wishes for good weather, forests being always green, a bumper harvest. A village patriarch reminds people to have not to destroy the forest, and then divide the land among inhabitants.
The festival has reminded people to care to protect the forest. Then, people signed the commitment to protecting the forest, planting many trees on the garden and slope of hills. They also enjoy the wine flavor, join the fun and folk games with ethnic identity such as blind man’s buff, ferris wheels, push sticks, shooting the crossbow and so on.
Nowadays, many villages of ethnic minority people in Lao Cai have prohibited forest. The forbidden forest is the common forest inhabitants must protect and do not cut down trees. The construction of forbidden forests ecological and educational values for the hamlet.
The worship of the Dao people in Ma hamlet, Tri Quang commune, Bao Thang district was held on the 8th of every Lunar New Year. This is the festival of protection and development the forest. It is also combined with traditional worship for the forest in the early spring.
The Dao hamlet has a traditional custom of worshiping the new forest on January and other three main days of the year including the Thanh Minh Festival (on March 3rd in every lunar year), the Than Nong festival (June 6th) and the New Rice festival (September 9th). The worshiping forest festival is the largest because the festival takes place at beginning of the new year. There are many people participate in the festival and plant trees under the custom of Dao Tuyen ethnic group.
The ritual in the worshiping forest festival
To prepare for the ceremony, the Dao families have to get up early to clean up their houses and their ancestors’ altars, and then they choose the most beautiful traditional costumes to join the festival.
The offerings were brought to under the ancient tree with hundreds of years old in the village’s forest. Then, the worshiper carries the trays on the head of girls and boys to put in the temple in front of the tree. On behalf of the inhabitants, the worshiper prays that the gods of the forest defend villagers.
After ended rituals, inhabitants gather in a hill to listen to the technical rangers guiding the technique for planting trees. Then, they plant many trees to thank the forest gods.
The village leader, then, reads the commitment to protecting the forest and sign a commitment to protecting the forest with forest rangers. All must obey the commitments made such as not cutting down the forest, not illegally exploiting the forest, mobilizing inhabitants to participate in implementing the “forest protection and development Regulations”, actively involving in forest plantation and so on. No one is allowed to violate the forbidden forest.