An abundance of ethnic people living in Sapa along with peculiar practices as characteristics of each of the ethnicities. Besides providing a broader appreciation of these cultural practices, an understanding of prohibitions in Sapa may be useful for tourists when visiting villages in Sapa. Here are some basic guidance:
- Pay money if you are welcomed for dining or overnighting.
- Ask for permission before taking photo.
- Do not give anything to local children, give to their parents or elderly people instead.
- Take note of prohibitions that strictly came into force.
Village Gate – The first to thing to note in the list of prohibitions in Sapa
At the entrance of the Ha Nhi, if you will see a gate set up with wooden stuff like a knife, sword and so forth. That is the time people are celebrating spirit-banishing ritual. Annual rituals like worshipping and spirit-banishing are taken place in January, June or July. During the ritual, people mark forbidden signs. Those marks prevent strangers from coming into the village such as binding green leaves on the peak of a tree right at the entrance. Whole villages neither go out nor permit strangers to enter within.
If a visitor accidentally wears a hat or umbrella and come into the village, he/she will be fined. The punishment will be taken effect by handing in required offerings for the ritual. To some extent, you must take off your hat, pack bags, all belongings. Another choice is that those personal properties must be hand-held so as for approval.
Every ethnic village has their own forbidden forest for worshipping supernatural powers or ancient deities. Not only that, the forbidden forest is the public forest for villagers, they have the obligations of protecting and taking care of woods. Cutting-down, littering and dating within those areas are strictly banned. Young women and men as couples are not even permitted to come into the forest.
Sapa prohibitions inside the house
Before getting your feet in the door, remember to observe around carefully. If there be a branch of the tree, the symbol of fox eye or a horn put on the stair, this is forbidden sign to express that they do not welcome strangers here.
The house built with two doors at the front and you are only allowed passing through the first, you could pass the second one if you got the permission from the host. There are more prohibitions around housing that specifically applied to women, they only walk up stairs on the left side and they would not be around their altarpiece with no permission.
Kitchen depot is the place for cooking and welcoming guests as well as a place of divinity to worship God of Cookery and Fire God. For that reason, many of related-kitchen prohibitions are in effect; No feet on stone or place stone beneath one’s feet because they believe the stone is the haven of Fire God. Furthermore, they have to pay high attention to the direction of using cookers while cooking and definitely do not turn two pans to the direction of the crossbar for the reason that is where the coffin buried.
When putting woods into the oven, do not pick the horn as first for the belief of “difficult” pregnancy. If they have guests come around, they will not allow the guests to come to the kitchen and one thing should be noted, NO FLUTING IN THE HOUSE! Additionally, that action will be considered as calling for Evil spirits to bring the dark storm to that house.
In the daily life
When passing by somewhere, you must be actively greeting them with a gorgeous smile than ever. Soft smiles will delete language barrier and connect people together. You can shake hands instead of saying farewell and end with a smile. Do not touch your hand on children’s head, because each spirit within one physical vessel will be panic and run away. This leads to severe sickness to children from their perspective.
Each group of ethnic people has a different mindset of where to sit inside the house. When one’s parents or grandparents pass away, the first position nearby altarpiece has to be left an extra space. This is for commemorating the loss of that beloved mem, hence guests should not occupy that spot.
At bedtime, hosts always have the separate beds to welcome their guests for overnight. However, visitors must follow the guidelines of the host. You are free to sleep in any directions even corners except around altarpiece. Be careful not to have your feet towards that direction. Moreover, remember not to bring any white-colored curtains or fabrics there as well.
You may not be at ease during the tour encountering the unfriendliness from villagers for lack of knowledge. Hopefully, this article would bring you a useful source of information to serve you a happy journey!