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New Year Festival with the Miao

The Miao New Year Festival is the most ceremonious of the many festivals that they observe.
It lasts for two weeks-from the first day of the 12th lunar month to the 15th day. During the festival people eat, drink, relax and have fun, pray to the gods for good luck and worship ancestors. The liveliest scene is the “bamboo flute gala” dance performed to the music of bamboo flutes.
The bamboo flute hall is the center of the festival. Swarms of people mill around a band of the festival. Swarms of people mill around, a band of more than a hundred players blow bamboo flutes large and small in unison, the music carrying several miles away. Girls wearing “100-bird” dress, silver ornaments and silver headdress, dance around the bamboo flute hall.
The action warms up even more when bamboo flute bands from neighboring villages pay a Mew Year’s visit. Hearing the music that heralds their arrival, everyone in the host village, male and female, old and young, rushes to the village gate to welcome them. The sounds of the flutes sound out even louder, the girls dance even more alluringly. Then come the horse-fights, bull-fights, cock-fights and bird-fights.
Youths also perform the old “Mangge Dance” during the festival period. Mangge is one of the Miao ancestral gods, which will emerge from the forests after Spring Festival to exorcise evil spirits and disease. The false “Mangges”, wearing masks and Chinese silver grass, with blackened hands and feet, rush down from the hills as if they were the mountain god arriving.

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