Vietnam Time

7/13/2017 11:10:42 AM

Tay people’s Moon worshipping festival recognised as national heritage

(VNF) - The Nang Hai festival, in worship of the moon, which is observed annually by the Tay ethnic groups in Tien Thanh commune, Phuc Hoa district, Cao Bang province, has been listed as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Moon worshipping festival of Tay ethnic people.

In the Tay people’s belief, mother Moon and her 12 fairies-daughters, ‘Nang Hai’ (means Second Damsel or Damsel of the Moon), take care of the life and crops of people on earth. Therefore, every first lunar month, they host the festival to invite the mother Moon and her daughters down to earth and pray for happiness, favourable weather conditions and bumper crops

To prepare for the festival, elders in the village pick a woman who has a happy family and is good at singing to play as Mother Moon. Fourteen ladies are also selected to play the fairies.

Offerings during the festival include a pig, a chicken, and a tray of five-coloured glutinous rice.

A tent is set up in the village and is decorated with flowers and leaves, serving as a venue to stage the festival, which will be held once every 12 nights. Every night features a journey of the fairies to invite each of the 12 ‘Nang Hai’ to join in with the celebration.

The shaman, wearing a red robe and a red hat and holding a musical instrument called a Tinh, sings and dances in front of the altar. Behind him are 14 girls holding paper fans. Two of them cross their legs and solemnly look at the altar. They represent the Second Damsel. The other 12 girls wear indigo costumes and stand in two lines. An old woman stands next to them to instruct them in the ritual inviting the Second Damsel. She must be a good singer, have a happy family, and thoroughly understand the Tay customs.

The shaman and the girls pray at the temple of Land Genie.

The shaman reads the prayer. Then the two medium girls start to move and sing.

After the inviting ceremony inside the house, the shaman leads the 14 girls to the temple of the Land Genie to inform him of the reception for the Moon Damsel. Then they go to the tent in front of the house to pray and sing and welcome the Moon Damsel.

Taking down the tent and bring the boat to the rever.

After the ritual the 12 girls representing the fairy daughters of the Moon Damsel take down the tent and share the offerings to the villagers. They sing together to promise to meet again the following year. The Moon Damsel throws paper fans and popcorn to the villagers as a sharing of prosperity. The more popcorn they catch the more wealth they will have.

The Second Moon Damsel festival reflects the Tay people’s belief in supernatural power that can bless them with bumper crops and a happy family.

The recognition for Nang Hai festival, as national intangible cultural heritage, aims to preserve and promote a unique traditional practice of Vietnam’s ethnic communities./.

Compiled by VNF  
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