Xishuangbanna is composed of 13 nationalities. Besides wearing different costumes, there are 13 different cultures and different spoken languages. All the different nationalities enjoy the peaceful coexistence.
In China, Dai are mainly living in tropical and subtropical regions of Xishuangbanna. Dai people consist of Water and Han and Floral belt ethnic groups. “Dai” in its language mean the peace-loving people. As the biggest ethnic group in Xishuangbanna, the Dai has a population of approximately 280, 000 and account for 35% of the total population in Xisuangbanna. The Dai kingdom came to existence in the 12th century and lasted until the People’s Republic of China came to power. Since the Dai people were the earliest immigrants in south eastern parts of China, they settle in the most fertile areas. Dai written language evolved from Sanskrit which was brought into China 800 years ago. In Xishuangbanna, the Dai and Bulang ethnic group believe in Theravada Buddhism.
The first day
On April 13th every year, the Dai people usher in their New Year and bid farewell to the elapsed one. By splashing water on one another, they express their wish for peace and fortune, and beg the heaven for another bumper harvest. The Lancang shores turn into a festival song and light. Multitudes of people come to Xishuangbanna to celebrate the Dai New Year.
Boat races—about noon, the Dai people compete in their dragon boats at Xishuangbanna bridge.
Fireworks—at the same time next to Xishuangbanna bridge, there is fireworks display—their dreams and those of their ancestors from last year has become a reality. With this launching, they are sending off their new dreams.
Dai people’s barbecue
Noteworthy is the food. The Dai food is a unique and an important part of their culture. The food is barbecued, roasted, baked, steamed, boiled—fish, pork chicken —you name it!
The second day
On April 14th, tourists experience the joy of watching the Dai dance.
Dance—about 9 am in the center of Jinghong, the colorfully dressed Dai people dance the Yelahe to the beats of elephants’ feet drums.
Especially beautiful is Dai peacock dance. The peacock symbolizes not only beauty, but also goodwill, luck and holiness.
There is also the Unity dance of the Dai people and the Folk dance.
For the folk dance, the Dai are dressed in eye-dazzling costumes, people are praying to the gods for blessings through enthusiasm and bold dances.
Throwing Embroidered Pouches
The Dai throw embroidered pouches at their loved ones.
Make sure you take pictures of this!
The Dai throwing embroidered pouches to dear ones
Dai young people’s unique way is to chase after one another, so make sure you take pictures of this.
Sand sculpture of the Dai people
When sculpturing the sand they also send their wishes, the sculptures are mainly animals.
Cleansing the gods/The sacrificial rites
They worship and offer sacrifices to the Buddha.
Setting off the Kongming lantern
At night, people go to Lancang River shores for setting off the Kongming lantern. The Dai people believe the lanterns carry blessings, good luck, and dreams with them as the lanterns sail away peacefully along Lancang River. This is a beautiful sight.
The last but not least day-truly Water-splashing Festival
April 15th is the last day of Water-splashing Festival. Water-splashing Festivals is self-explanatory. Water has extraordinary significances for Dai people. Water is the embodiment of holiness, purity and fortune. On the day of Water-splashing Festival, the more water that is splashed upon you, the more luck you have in the next year. After the first and second day, the water splashing event is the high point of New Year happiness.
Closing-door Festival & Open-door Festival
It falls in the middle of July in Chinese Solar Calendar when farmers are busy farming. Closing-door refers to a 3 month period of following strict traditional rule. (It is similar to giving up pleasures). People are not allowed to go far away for business, build new houses, or get married. Dai and Bulang families go to the monastery every week to pray that all goes well in their lives. They take offerings in the monastery, worship Buddha and listen to eminent monks chanting. After Closing-door Festival is the Opening-door Festival. For two days there is a religious activity and people are then allowed to get married, build houses and travel again.