Festivals of Hani People

They mostly live in the southwest of Yunnan Province of China. The Hanis have their own language, but do not have their letters.

Gatangpa Festival

"Gatangpa" means "to renew of everything on the earth" or "to worship the ancestor Tangpa" in the Hani language. From January 2 to 4 of each lunar year, the Hanis dress up. They slay chook, swine and make sticky rice cakes to fete the ancestor and junket friends, and celebrating the New Year. Yong men and girls may go to the mountains in groups, collecting wild flowers and fruits. Regardless of the age, all men will make a peg-top. They will go to the open ground for a peg-top playing game. All the villagers enjoy themselves to greet in the New Year.

Spring Festival

In a couple of days before the Spring Festival, women of Hanis are busy in making Baba. Boys go to the mountain to cut bamboo and build the swing on the ground. The Hanis in the Simao region set up the "Moqiu" (in the shape of the teeterboard). All people, young or old, male or female, come to the ground to play swing or get seated on the "Moqiu". The Hanis from the Jinggu and Zhenyuan areas will dance at night. Yong men and girls will keep singing in antiphonal style overnight to look for their lover.

In case of the Dragon Day (counted on the basis of 12 animals), peoples will sit together. The old singer sings the toast songs, which concerns the old legend of their own ethnic minority, the memory of the ancestor and the wish for the happy life.


It is also called "Mother Worship Festival", and "Worship the Devine Tree". It falls on the Dragon Day in lunar February.

"Amashi" is a transliteration of the Hani language, and it means "feminie", "mother", "female" and "big". The word "Ama" is called as "Fuma", and "Puma" that mean the "Devine Tree" or "Spirit Forest" in some other places. Therefore, people call the festival as "Mother Worship Festival" or "Worship Devine Tree". It prevails in the Da and Hani regions. The Hanis believe in the multi-deity, but they worship the Tree God the most and regard it as the patron saint of the Hanis. Hence, when they build the village, they will first choose a "Devine Forest" where they have to take the strongest one as the "Devine Tree". The livestock is prohibited to get in.

Legend has it that in the ancient time, the human and the ghost were brothers. Later they were apart due to disagreement. As the ghost disturbed, the human accused the Heaven of him. The Heaven God transformed his daughter to the Devine Tree to guard the villager and told people to beat gongs and drums on the same day of each year at the place where the ghost lived, in order to subjugate the ghost. It evolved through generations and became the festival.

Each family holds the worship to the Devine Tree. The flamen voted will preside over the ceremony. The qualification of the electee is required to be man, the simple and hardworking farmer. His first wife should live with him and his son and daughter. He must well know his nation's language, culture, history, customs, and at the meantime, he must be of prestige and respected. The voting is held once a year. The reappointment is possible. Once elected as the flamen through the democratic procedure, he can communicate with the goddess and reflect the wish of peoples. He is not involved in other worships. "Dragon Day" is called as "Luo Nuo" in the Hani language. The word "Luo" means "increase", the "Nuo" refers to the "Heaven" and "Day". Therefore, the Dragon Day is considered as a festival.

During the worship, every family chooses a man as deputy. With him, he takes rice, wine and a bowl of red, yellow and white sticky rice inserted with a bundle of flowers. A big bowl of prickly ash water is placed near the Devine Tree. It is intended for the worshippers to gargle. The flamen has to wear suit-dress on white fabric and pray the Devine Tree for the safety of the village, the bumper harvest and generation in prosperity. A swine is to be slain in the forest, cooked and shared together. People drink and sing. At night, they start welcoming the God to the village. All villagers uphold the firebrands and beat drums and gongs for the reception. The worshippers are not allowed to turn around and walk until they retreat from the forest. The whole village is full of people dancing and singing. On the next day, the flamen and the village chief will send off the Devine Tree to its original place, then, the Amashi Festival is over. This custom reflects the worship to the maternity, the pursuit of the birth. It is obvious that it has a long history.


Miao'aina Festival

After the planting of rice seedlings, the Hanis in Luchun Country will celebrate the Miao'aina Festival. "Miaoaina" means "break day after the autumn harvest" in Chinese. It generally occurs in the first ten days of May. On the festival day, the whole village will slay a pig and a sheep. A portion is supplied for each family. People will blow the bullhorn at the time of the festival. It is said that farm cattle can rest for a while when the horn is blown.

According to the local practice, prior to the breakfast of the festival, people have to splash a cup of tee and a bowl of wine over the green grass that has been cut, and then pack the grass together with a bowl of meat and a bowl of rice to serve the farm cattle. In addition, the furrows and hoes used in paddy transplanting should be washed and put on the fixed place. On the festival night, the fires are put up, and all villagers dance and sing on the lawn over the night.

Locust Catching Festival

The Locust Catching Festival is called in Hani language "Asenian". There is only one season paddy in the mountainous area of the Hanis. After the June Year Festival on lunar June 24, the paddy starts tasseling. The Hanis lustrate and avoid pests by celebrating the Locust Catching Festival. On the day of catching the locusts, all villagers will go to the field to catch the insects. They are divided by family and catch the pests in groups. Once a family has caught full of a bamboo tube (about 1 kg), they tear up the pests into five parts, heads, legs, bodies, tails and wings. By order, they nip them with ripped bamboo and plant them at the ridge of the field and near the barrel-drains for the purpose of scaring uncaught locusts and other pests. Half an hour later, these pests have to be collected and put in the bamboo tube. They take them back and make dish or mix them with sticky rice into tasty. It is said the locust flesh tastes delicious. When leaving the field, people all shout ceaselessly, "Locust! We do not catch you again in three days. Do not damage our paddy within three months!"

-- "Zhalete"

It is the traditional festival of the Hanis. "Zhalete" is a transliteration and means "making the sticky rice balls". It is popular in the south of Yunnan Province. The festival lasts 5-6 days or even half a month. Before the festival, people will tidy up the village, houses and prepare the festal food. The worship to the ancestors is to be held prior to the breakfast: each family has to take a cup of wine and three sticky rice balls with a small dustpan and discard them outside the village. Afterward, they have to offer three balls and some cooked meat to the person with the highest position in the clan hierarchy to show their respect and always have the ancestors in mind. On the morning of the festival, every family will slay a cock with red feathers and cook it on the spot. It is not allowed to take it to the room. This is to show the worship in favor of the Heaven and the Earth.

There are two programs of large event in the festival: one is "Ziwudu" and the other "Swing". The word "Ziwudu" means "the whole family drinks wine for the harmony and luck", and it may also be translated as "gam feast of the village". Sometimes, the feast table is 100m long. Songs and dances are performed during the feast held on the street of the village. The spectacle is hardly described. The ceremony of the Swing Playing takes place at noon. The compere takes a bowl where there are 6 rice balls, three white and three black. The black balls are wrapped with black sesame. He will say something to send off the previous year, then throw the black balls behind him, and he continues to greet for the New Year, and then throw the white rice ball over the ground in front of him. Immediately, the fire guns shoot together. The gongs and drums beat. The compere pulls the swing three times. The Swing is announced to commence. The entertainment includes wrestling, peg-top, dance and singing, needfire party and feast. During the festival, people will visit friends and relatives, courting and engagement, the daughter-in-laws have to return to her parents' home. It is very animated. In the Mohe River area, the young daughter-in-laws married just for one year will gather together outside the village to have intimate talks on the experience of the fresh marriage and recall the sisterly friendship. Men are not allowed to listen. The "Zhalete" of the Hanis is full of friendship between different minorities.

"Yang Ana"

It takes place on the first Cow Day after the paddy transplanting every lunar year.

It is the traditional festival of the Hanis. The "Yang Ana" is a transliteration of the Hani language. It means, "to take a break". It is popular among the Yeches, a sub-branch of the Red River Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. During the festival, people beat the cow-skin drums and gongs. Young men and girls dress up. Yong men take three-string instrument, yu-kin, bamboo flute; girls are gorgeously dressed. They carry pretty parasol and hurry to the lawn on the slope from near and far.

The elder and kids tail up in the pageant. People play the flute, play music and sing songs. They enjoy the scenery in spring and visit friends with partners. They talk about the past and present and greet each other. The happiest people are of course the unmarried young people. They take this chance to get to know new friends and court. Young men, natural and graceful, play music with great ardency; girls partially hide themselves with their parasol and sing love songs in whisper. Once they find each other congenial, then disappear in the forest, confide their love to each other and exchange the keepsake. They won't leave until the sunset.

"Shulongba Gate" Festival

It takes place on the mid March of the lunar year. It means to "pray for safety".

It is the religious worship festival of the Hanis. The "Shulongba Gate" means the door of the village. The village chief or the flamen has the right to decide when to celebrate the "Shulongba Gate" Festival. So, it takes place in different time because of the different areas. It is very popular in many Hani minority inhabited areas of Yunnan Province.

The Hanis living in Xiding Mountain of Menghai County in the Xishuangbanna Autonomous Prefecture believe that the village gate is to protect people and livestock from the damage of the ghost and demon. The more solid the gate is and the more gates the village has (the doors are built in several layers), the safer people could feel. Hence, one door is supplemented per year. The former defect is that it is difficult to move. The front door is designed for entry and exit; the backdoor is used for the deceased; the side door is for the standby purpose, which is sometimes used to drive out the ghost.


It is also called "Kaiyangmen" and "Huangfanjie", which takes place on the "Sheep Day" in April of the lunar year.

It is the folk festival of the Hanis. The "Limazhu" is the transliteration of the Hani language, which means the feast of the spring. It is popular in the Red River Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province. The Hanis name the cuckoo as "Hebo Ama", which means "Cuckoo Mom". It is obvious that they pay much homage to it. Whoever hear the first cuckoo, ht/she shall reply with "Yes, I've heard you!"

According to the custom, when the majority of the villagers have heard the cuckoo, people have promised to celebrate the festival on the Sheep Day. They marinate sticky rice by using the arbor flower juice, and then cook yellow rice. In addition, red eggs and cates are specially prepared to worship the "Cuckoo Mom". The young fellows and girls, dressed up, gather on the lawn of the slope. They sing and play at the same time, court and date until late night. The householder of each family will stealthily plant three bundles of paddy seedlings in their rice paddy, which is referred to as "Kaiyangmen". If people do not hear tweedle while doing this, it foretells the prevention of the insect and bird disasters. After the festival, people start transplanting the rice seedlings, and begin the busy season of spring farming.


As one of the Hanis' worship festivals, it is celebrated in lunar February. The "Baoruirui" is the transliteration of the Hani language, and means "worship to the dragon". It prevails mainly in Yunnan Province and the Hani Autonomous County in Heilongjiang Province. The local Hanis believe that the dragon is the most powerful protective god. Hence, the worship to dragon is most important to them. The worship commonly lasts 3-5 days. The duration varies according to the regions. It mainly occurs in lunar February, and sometimes, it falls in March or October. The date of the worship is determined on the Dragon, Cow, Horse or Pig Days.

The worship to Dragon is held in the Dragon Forest of each village. Women are not allowed to take part in the event. The rite master is appointed to the village chief. While praying, he holds the sword and slays livestock (pig, chook and duck). Afterward, he let people clean them and put on the altar. The offering includes wine, tea, eggs, sticky rice and fruits. When everything is ready, fire gun and firecrackers are set off together. Drums and gongs sound. The village chief trolls folk songs of the Hanis that are performed on the important events to pray god for the bumper harvest and tell of experience on the agriculture. When he finishes, he distribute the deputy of each family the cooked offerings, which they will bring back home to consume after the ancestor worship.

On the next morning, the host of each family brings festal foods and gathers on the public lieu. They continue to be audience for the village chief's extemporization. Now, the content is relevant to the god bless for the safety of the people and livestock, married couples' harmonization and how to foster the offspring, how to respect the elders and take after the children, and how to work hard. When he finishes, people dine together. The feast will be combined with the "Niugu" Dance ("Alachua").

Legend has it that in the past when the ancestor of the Hanis just arrived in Aolao Mountain, the Hill Demon often disturbed the village and forced people to offer him a girl in each February. A widow named Beiniang dressed her two sons into girls, and offered to the demon. They fuddled it and killed him after a fierce fight, but the two sons were tired out and died. The "Baoruirui" Festival is celebrated to memorize them. During the festival held in this area, one of the programs is to choose two fellows and dress them into girls, who, followed by crowd of people, walk around the village. As entertainment programs, the singing contest and "Moqiu Play" (in shape of the teeterboard) are held in some areas.

Yekuzha Festival

It is held on the first Cow Day in each lunar June.

Near the festival, men of the village voluntarily gather together to prepare articles of entertainment for the festival. The fellows go to the mountain with axes and firewood knives. They bring back long and straight chestnut wood and several zhang (1 zhang = 3.3 m) long red rattans. Then, they choose a free and large ground where they set up high and stable swing support. The kids are busy with peg-top making and making the thin hemp rope. Women hasten to cook sticky rice and make sticky rice cakes as well as festal food. When the festival comes, every family has to set a feast and all family members have a merry dinner. Then, they go to take part in the festal entertainment. On this day, all villagers will assemble on the swing ground. It is said that to play the swing on the Yekuzha Festival will free people from disasters, so all people go there and strive to play swing. The one who fails also manages to take a seat on the swing for a while.

At the beginning of swing playing, the elder with prestige holds the ceremony. He takes a cup of wine by one hand, and draws the swing cable by the other, sings a chanson to pray god for his blessing. When finished, he splashes wine near the swing and wishes every player luck and safety. Afterward, he grasps the swing cable and swings several times, then, people strive to play. While playing, young people carry out a stealth competition. The one who can swing to the highest point and to the maximum extent will receive toast and cheers. He will be treated as the hero. On the night, boys and girls will hold a party on the ground; they perform the "Dongbazha" or Bamboo Tube Dance. They troll by improvisatori. The mountains of Hanis are filled with festal songs and cheers.

Kuzhazha Festival

The festival takes place from lunar June 23 to 26.

It is the important traditional festival of the Hanis. "Kuzhazha" is the transliteration of the Hani language, which means "the crops are getting ripe and wealthy life is coming". It is also translated as "June Year Festival" or "Firebrand Festival". On the festival, every family makes sticky rice, sets the feast, makes fresh rice and worships the ancestor. The offerings include ripe paddy, green maize and green soybean. A scalper is slaughtered in every village to worship the Heaven God, Earth God, Mountain God, Village God and Dragon God. The aim of the worship is to pray for the safety of human and livestock and the bumper harvest. After the worship, the beef is distributed among every family. The festal programs mainly include the swing play, dance and epic recitation.

The most special and attractive is the swing play. A post as wide as a bowl is buried and just a part of about 1.5m long is above the ground. The top is in the shape of a taper. There is an oak pole of 5-5m long where a hole is chiseled in the middle. Then set the pole on the taper post. The Moqiu (in the shape teeterboard) is ready-made. While playing, a person will get seated on each end of the oak pole, and press it to turn and make it up and down. The louder the squeak by Moqiu's rubbing makes, the luckier it foresees. Therefore, young men strive to show their skills in order to get more cheer and adoration of girls.

It is said that the swing play is to memorize a pair of brother and sister. In the remote times, when the sun and the moon rose and set irregularly, the crops grew bad. The people suffered a lot. The brother and sister went to the Heaven by swinging to convince the son and moon. The outcome was that the brother died of the torridity and the sister of the frigidity. As the recompense, the sun and the moon rose in turn.

On the last day of the festival, every family bundles the firebrand with pine twigs.

In the night, the hostess sets off the firebrand, takes dustpan and kindles every corners of the room while incanting to drive away the evil. After then, she passes the firebrand to kids and goes to the village and stands in a long queue with others. They demonstrate to the southeast, indicating that the evil has been driven far away and the village is now in safety and luck.

Fresh Rice Festival

It happens between each lunar July and August.

It is the traditional farming festival of the Hanis in Yunnan Province. The festival is termed as "to have the fresh rice" in the Hani language from Xishuangbanna Prefecture and the Lancang area, but it is called "Chezhashi" in Honghezhou, translated in Chinese as "Fresh Rice Festival". Besides, some regions call it "Kanuchouye", and "Yuepu Moqie". The date of the festival is determined when the paddy is getting ripe between each lunar July and August. In some places, the Dragon Day is set as the festival date, for the dragon stands for the abundance and increase in Hani language. The Hanis long for the bumper harvest and unceasing increase on food, after they have held the ceremony of taking fresh crops and fresh rice wine.

On the morning of the festival, the housemaster of every family goes to the field and chooses the largest rice spike and twist down a few of grains, wraps them with leaves and hangs it in the field in hope of better harvest. They collect a bundle of paddy spikes and grind them. Then, they prepare fresh rice and wine to invite the village chief and relatives. In addition, a part of popcorn made of fresh rice will be applied. Prior to the supper, every family will fete the ancestor with fresh rice and popcorns, and then feed the dog on the popcorns.

That's because legend has it that long ago the flood swept all crops in the world. After the water waned, a bird found a paddy and wanted to peck, but here came a dog that drove away the bird and got the paddy. Since then, people resumed the cultivation of the paddy. That is the reason that people have to offer the food to the dog, every time they take fresh rice. The legend from other areas tells that the daughter of the God offered the paddy seeds to the human behind his father's back and taught people the way of the cultivation. It turned out that his father got angry and turned her into a dog and exiled her to the human world. The Hanis remember her deed and worship her every year.

When the worship is finished, the host and guests begin to enjoy the fresh rice. It is said that the more they take, the better quality the paddy will have at the time of the harvest and people will be never worried about the shortage.

In some places, the village chief will choose a fine day for fresh rice tasting. He will invite all elder men of the village to taste fresh rice, and then, it is the turn of other villagers to have fresh tasting. Soon after the Fresh Rice Festival, the autumn harvest commences.

"Juezhazha "Festival

It occurs at the end of lunar December.

It is the folk festival of the Hanis. The "Juezhazha" is the transliteration of the Hani language, which means that the festival ends the cold season. It prevails in most of the Hani regions in Yunnan Province. The festival is held on the Horse or Sheep Day at the end of the year. It lasts three days. The prime program is to worship the Heaven God, Earth God, Fire God and the deceased relatives in remote countries.

The sticky rice dumpling ball is used to fete the Heaven God to pray for snowing and winterkilling the pests so to protect crops from insects and have a bumper harvest.

The pork, rice and rice wine are used to worship the Fire God and deceased relatives, a bowl of ginger soup will be offered to the Fire God, and a bowl of clean water to the ancestor. This is meant to offer the God water for washing up. The ginger soup is used to remove typhoid and get recovered from the fatigue. The offerings have to be renewed every morning and prior to the breakfast during the festival. On the morning of the third day, people will send off the God and ancestor. Afterward, men invite their friends and relatives for a feast; women will carry sticky rice cakes and pork and go to visit their daughter married in other place to strengthen the relative relationship and promote the love between the couple.

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