TOMB SWEEPING FESTIVAL IN CAO BANG

Tuesday - 09/04/2019 04:13
Apart from biological and ecological value of international significance, Cao Bang in general and Non nuoc Cao Bang UNESCO global geopark is famous for its identical and distinguished cultural values. Cao Bang is home to more than 95% ethnic minority groups with their own traditions and practices. It is their identical feature which has helped shape a colorful and cultural diversity picture such as traditional folk songs of groups such as Then, Ha Leu, SLI, LUON, and different traditional festivals such as Long Tong, Fire crackers, Nang Hai, in particular the Tom Sweeping Festival of Nung An people in Phuc Sen Quang Uyen, Cao Bang.
TOMB SWEEPING FESTIVAL IN CAO BANG

Tom Sweeping Festival of Nung An people is celebrated on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional lunar calendar, normally it is after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April (lunar calendar) in a given year, in Phuc Sen commune, Quang Uyen district. According to the people in there, this festival is celebrated to memorize and praise the faithfulness of a young couple with true love, ordinary and simple life and agaist backward and feudal practices. The festival is celebrated to pray for good crop as well. The name of this festival in Nung language is “Sinh Minh”.

Once upon a time, there was a young man named Sinh (Thanh) in Phja Chang valley, Phuc Sen commune, who was smart, good-looking, and strong. During his time, there was also young woman named Mình (Minh), who was very beautiful and gentle. They were both very hardworking, kind, and fancied by other peoples in their communities. They met and fell in love with each other deeply. Since Sinh (Thanh) loved Minh too much, he invited Minh to come to stay with him while they hadn’t completed marriage procedures according to their tradition. This was against their tradition in which their parents would arrange their marriage for them. Some of the people in their community commented that this doing was against tradition. Although  people in the community knew that it was their true love. Meanwhile, in the region there was a greedy and perfidious official, he wanted to marry her as well. He tried to flirt, threaten and seduce her in order to get what he wanted. The young woman denied the wealth and gorgeous life promised to her and followed her heart love with the young man. The backward tradition and the perfidious official prevented their true love and this made them feel really sad. However the young man and woman still loved and stayed with each other. Time passing by, their lives became harder and harder. They felt so hopeless that they committed suicide; they jumped into the deep blue water area close to an old banian-tree where the young man and woman promised to love and stay each other forever. It was so strange that the water area turned into a fresh stream and wherever the water ran to, the area, trees and crop became fertilized, and local people had good livelihood and prosperous lives. It was said that this was owning to the protection from souls of Mr. Sinh and Ms. Mình, though they passed away, they still missed and loved their homeland. Since then people put an incense burner near the water area to show their gratitudes to the young couple; hoped that they would not be splitted up, and praying for good health, good crop. The people in the area chose the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional lunar calendar to celebrate the festival and name the festival “Sinh Mình” “Tomb sweeping festival” to memorize their young couple Sinh and Minh (Thanh Minh). The old water area because of long time alluvion and accumulation was changed into the water well of Phja Chang village, near the Kindergarten and Primary school of Phuc Sen commune. Annually, on that occasion, young men and women in Phuc Sen commune still come to this area to look for their spouse and promise their love in there.

Once coming to join the festival, we will be aware of the presence of a temple near the People’s committee of Phuc Sen commune worshipping the Land God which dated back long time ago. Time passing by with historical events, the temple was deteriorated. After 1979, local people renovated the temple and roofing with Yin Yang tile, and developed a middle altar with ancestral tablet and two parallel sentences in Sino-Vietnamese. This is the place to hold the memorial ceremony to memorize the tragic love story, and for young couple to express their exception of love, while carrying out practice to express gratitude to the Land God to pray for good crop and weather. Most of Nung An family coming to join the festival always bring good food and fruits, wine, etc to present at the temple altar in order to show their respect to the young couple. After that, people start praying near the water well, where Mr. Sinh and Ms. Mình died. Thanh Minh festival (Tomb sweeping festival) is a traditional festival demonstrating belief, spiritual life and inclined to the good of Nung An people. In addition, it is suitable to the needs of spiritual practice of ethnic minority groups. This explains why people, especially young people enthusiastically sustain this traditional festival.

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