The Pa Then Fire-dancing Festival

02/12/2019 10:46

We join a Fire-dancing Festival in Thuong Minh village, Hong Quang commune, Lam Binh district, Tuyen Quang province.

Ethnic Pa Then people hold their Fire-dancing Festival to invite the gods to share their joy and bless them with good health, favorable weather, and a bountiful harvest.

Before the event, they prepare offerings that include a piglet, a bowl of rice, a bottle of wine, money, and dry wood. Prior to dancing, a shaman offers incense on the altar, pours tea into five cups, recites prayers, and invites the gods to join the ritual.

After that, the shaman performs the rites. The villagers circle around him, listening and watching as the fire dancers sit before the shaman. As the fire flares up, the knocking beat of the shaman's Pa Do (a wooden musical instrument used for this ritual) grows louder and faster. During intense moments, the shaman’s chair shakes vigorously and the flames rise higher. The shaman knocks more sharply on the Pa Do. As if possessed by gods, dancers jump into and roll over the blazing fire. Some even put the red coals on their heads or toss them with their bare hands, without being burned.

At the end of the ritual, before sending off the gods, the shaman asks them to leave the dancers’ bodies so these participants can return to their normal state.

For Pa Then people, fire dancing is an important ritual, which not only expresses their wishes for good luck and prosperity but also cements relationships among the villagers.

Story: Nam Anh

Photos:  Le Hong Duc (Photo album from the Heritage Photographic Contest - Journey of Heritages 2019

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