Duan Festival of Shui Ethnic Group

“Borrowing Duan” and “Spending Mao”

Bronze drum of the SuisThe Duan Festival is the grandest in the year for Suis. “The Duan Festival” is calculated according to the Sui Book and Sui calendar. The Sui calendar also divides a year into twelve months and four seasons, but it takes the lunar ninth month as the beginning of a year and the lunar eighth month as the end of a year and it used the twelve earthly branches to designate days. From the last ten-day period of the twelfth month to the second month next year in Sui calendar (that is the last ten-day period of the eighth month to the first ten-day period of the tenth month in lunar year. People in different places spend the festival in turn according to tradition on every pig day (called “Hai” day in Chinese, which is one of the twelve earthly branches). This is Duan Festival, which is also called “Gua Festival”, and the Sui common people call it “borrowing Duan”.

Sui women in marketIt is a tradition in Suis that “if you spend the Duan Festival, you can’t spend the Mao (one of the twelve earthly branches, which means rabbit) Festival, and vise versa”. What’s more, the turn of spending the festival for people of different places should not be reversed or mixed. A relatively consistent legend about the origin of the custom is: in ancient times, the forefather of the Suis-Gongdeng had two sons. The older one was assigned to live in the upper Neiwatao area, the younger one was assigned to live in the Jiuqian area below, and they agreed to reunion at their father’s home to celebrate after harvesting. Later they felt that the distance was too long, and it was not convenient for them to come and go, so they decided that the older brother spend the Duan Festival and the younger brother spend the Mao Festival. Until now, Sui people basically spend the festival with members of the same clan.

Before the Duan Festival, every family sweeps yard and tidies up rooms cleanly. The day before the festival, villages that are going to celebrate the festival beat drums and gongs to say goodbye to the old year and meet the New Year. They batcher chicken and duck and eat newly harvested rice.They also stew soup with fresh fish and prepare new rice and delicious soup to entertain relatives and friends. They offer sacrifice to ancestors at the New Year’s Eve (the night of Dog) and the first morning of the New Year (the Pig day). They avoid eating meat except fish, and there is no meat except fish in the offerings. The main dish in the offerings is fish stuffed with chives, because it is said in legend that the ancestors used to drive out all kinds of diseases with medicine made of nine kinds of vegetables, fish and shrimp. The way of making it is: put chives and condiment like chili, onion, ginger and garlic into the stomach of fish, and boil or steam it in clear water after it is tied up.

When the Duan Festival comes, young men and women gather around the “Duan slope” to play instruments, sing and dance;And all kinds of entertaining activities are held there, such as horse race, bullfight, theatrical performance, showing films, and gathering of relatives and friends for dinner. Over ten thousand people from Miaos, Dongs, Bouyeis, Zhuangs, Yaos and Hans living nearby come to take part in the festival.