New Year of Yi Ethnic Group (in Yunnan)
newstime:2012-11-21 | writer:Pu Xianhong befrom:Unknown read:
Ancestors of the Yi ethnic group invented a solar calendar in which seasons of the year are determined based on solar movement and the direction of the upper three of the Big Dipper. According to this solar calendar, a year is divided into ten months. Each month has 36 days and the additional 5or 6 days are New Year’s days. There are five New Year’s days in a common year while one more day is added in a leap year which occurs every four years. The Yi people’s solar calendar divides a year into five seasons represented respectively by earth, metal, water, fire and wood. Each season has two months –– the odd month is called “female month” while the even month is referred to as “male month”. The New Year of the Yi people dwelling in the southwest province of Yunnan falls in the period from the 23rd to 27thof November. The Yi people celebrate their new year by going on feast sprees, holding sacrificial rites to worship their ancestors and enjoying themselves in entertainments and games.
 
For the Yi people living in Chuxiong, Yunnan Province, every family will kill pig son the first day of the New Year. Campfire will be set off in the courtyard early in the morning as a way to call back the souls of their ancestors to celebrate the New Year together with them. Before the NewYear dinner begins, a solemn rite will beheld to show respect for ancestors. Pig’s internal organs and other offerings such as cigarettes, wines, sugars, tea and fruits will be placed in front of the memorial tablets of the family ancestors. The whole family will kowtow to their ancestors’ memorial tablets and sprayed meat, soup, tea and wine around in order to express commemoration for their ancestors. After that, the whole family will sit on the ground and enjoy the New Year dinner. On the sunset, the meat and the rice cake will be served in order to offer sacrifices again to the ancestors. In this way, the family members pray for good harvest, prosperous livestock and freedom from disasters and accidents.
 
On the second day, young men and women, dressed in festive attires, will enjoy themselves outside the village, playing games, singing folk songs, playing on swings, holding horse races and playing the “left-foot” dance.
 
On the third day, Yi people will prepare food early in the morning in order to bid farewell to souls of their ancestors. They will pour oat and corn into the stable, symbolizing that the divine horses of their ancestors will be fed. Then they will serve food and wine in front of memorial tablets of their ancestors. When the farewell rite is held, the male adult of the family will pray again for family peace and all the best. After the farewell rite, the family will have the food served to their ancestors and then see off visiting guests. The Yi people are generally thrifty but they will go on feast sprees during the New Year celebrations.
 
In order to preserve and promote the traditions and culture of the Yi ethnic group, the local government organizes during the New Year celebrations a big dinner party at the ancient town of Lucheng. A visitor buys a ticket of three dollars and can enjoy a variety of delicacies prepared by local Yi dwellers. Diners for this once-a-year celebration even come from neighboring cities and provinces, such as Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and even Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. Five hundred tables are set around this small town and the best food and wine are served freely.
 
                                                                                                          Text and Photo by Pu Xianhong
 
                                                                                           
editor: announcer: beley studio
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