📰Unveil the unique Fire Dancing Festival of the Red Dao people in Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam

The Fire Dancing Ritual is one of these cherished traditions, a testament to the indelible cultural and spiritual heritage of the Red Dao people.

Deeply rooted in the Hoàng Su Phi region for generations, the Red Dao community continues to preserve and uphold the unique cultural values of their ethnic group. This cultural richness extends beyond mere lifestyle, language, script, and traditional attire; it is embodied in their enduring ceremonial traditions, one of which is the famous Fire Dancing Festival. Join Panhou Retreat in discovering this one-of-a-kind cultural heritage of our Red Dao people.

  1. About Fire Dancing Festival of Red Dao ethnic group

This sacred ritual, an integral part of the community's life, takes place in the Hoàng Su Phi district of Ha Giang province during the first 15 days of the Lunar New Year. It serves as an occasion for expressing gratitude to the heavens, ancestors, and invoking blessings for a prosperous and abundant harvest, as well as a warm and prosperous life.

According to the Red Dao's ancestral beliefs, the flame plays an extremely vital role in their spiritual and cultural life. The flickering flame is considered a superior deity with the power to dispel evil spirits and diseases, bringing peace and happiness to their lives. Therefore, every spring, in an atmosphere of festive anticipation for the new year, the Red Dao community actively prepares to organize the Fire Dancing Ritual in various villages.

  1. What Red Dao people do in Fire Dancing Festival

Master artisan Triệu Chòi Hín, who holds the ancient Nôm Dao script and leads the ancestral worship ceremonies for the Dao community, explains that all young men aspiring to participate in the Fire Dance ritual must adhere to strict rules. They must ensure that their bodies are not "contaminated" before the ceremony, to avoid any potential consequences from the divine spirits. As a result, the fire dance ritual is usually conducted in the evening, after the men have eaten and bathed. To carry out this special ceremony, an altar is set with offerings for the Fire Deity, including boiled chicken, white rice, five cups of rice wine, a cup of water, an incense stick, paper money, and candles, arranged neatly on a long wooden table.

Once all the preparations meet the required standards, the ritual begins with the shaman performing the worship, seeking permission from the spiritual deities and reciting prayers for the well-being of the participants. At this point, the young men who are to partake in the fire dance sit on a low bench in front of a blazing pile of red-hot coal, awaiting the shaman’s spells for trance induction. As the shaman recites the final incantations, the participants get into their minds with absolute focus, seemingly freed from the physical world, and begin trembling and shaking vigorously, growing more intense with each moment. They rise to their feet as if beckoned by the spirits, confidently and collectively approaching the fiery heap, amidst a cacophony of drums and the jubilant cheers of the onlookers.

Under the divine protection of their guardian spirits, these young men boldly move into the heart of the flaming fire, using their bare feet to rake the burning embers and create a safe space to kneel down. Without hesitation or fear, they each take a handful of scorching coals and place them on their heads and bodies, a practice known as "Diao xin” or bathing with fire. Their hands and bodies may become soiled with ash, but they remain untouched by the searing heat of the fire.

With each young man soaring into the heart of the flames amidst the darkness of the night, they perform their dances enthusiastically until the fire is extinguished. This creates a unique and culturally rich spectacle that is hard to find anywhere else. According to the Red Dao belief, participation in the fire jump is a way for men to demonstrate their strength, courage, determination, agility, and cleverness to face and overcome challenging trials. As a result, young Dao women look up with admiration, respect, and affection for the successful young men who carry out this ritual.

  1. Efforts to preserve Fire Dancing Festival of Red Dao ethnic group

While the lives of the Red Dao people in Hoàng Su Phì have evolved and modernized, the enduring, unique cultural traditions such as the Fire Jumping Ritual continue to be cherished and celebrated by generations of Red Dao people. This not only represents their aspiration to master nature and their desire for a prosperous, harmonious life, but it also contributes to strengthening the spiritual bond among generations and within the community, uniting people in the effort to build a resilient and thriving future.

Inspired by the cultural essence of the Red Dao people, Panhou Retreat is committed to accompanying the local community in preserving and promoting the intangible cultural heritage of the region. Moreover, we aspire to collaborate with the local residents in the long-term effort to showcase their indigenous culture to both domestic and international visitors, aiming to achieve sustainable development goals in our business strategy.

At Panhou Retreat, every experience offered is unique that not only combines the best of what we have but also gives back to the community. We are a proud local retreat with a purpose, to provide true hospitality services that come from the heart, and create positive impacts in everything we do.

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