Zhabai Song Festival of Bouyei Ethnic Group

Zhabai Song Festival and June 6th Festival

There are many festivals celebrated by the Buyi people. Most of these festivals are associated with holding feasts at the hillside, making friends, playing games, singing songs and courting.

The Zha Bai Song Festival is a traditional festival among the Buyi people in Xingyi area, Guizhou province. It lasts from June 21st to 23rd in lunar calendar. It is prominent in its scale because tens of thousands of people in various kinds of minorities at the counties around will participate in it. In terms of the origin of this festival, legend has it that there was a couple living here long long age. The male named Zha; the female named Bai. They liked each other for some time. One day, when Miss Bai was collecting firewood on the hill, she was barely attacked by a tiger.

Fortunately, Mr. Zha killed the tiger and saved Miss Bai. And then, the love relationship was established. But a local official coveted Miss Bai’s beautiful appearance. As his courting and threatening all failed, he killed Mr. Zha and looted Miss Bai. Finally, Miss Bai set fire on the house of this official and threw herself to the fire to die for love. In memory of the couple, the name of the village was changed into Zha Bai village and the day when Miss Bai died for love was made as a festival and the place where Mr. Zha killed the tiger was taken as the field for singing songs.

Before the festival, every household will wash the bedcovers and the curtains, which are hanging all around the village, symbolizing the surrounding of white clouds and intending for the meaning of clean and clear. In the festival, streams of people walk together to go to Zha Bai village. Young people will not only fully dressed themselves, but they will also carry small articles with them to search for lovers. They hope that they can gain the faithful and persistent love between Mr. Zha and Miss Bai. The main content in the festival is to compete in singing songs. During the day, the competition is in the field while in the evening, they will sing in the yard or within the door. The host provides “colorful rice” (sticky rice dyed with five colors) and “tea” (actually rice wine, because the Buyi people’s costume is to welcome guests with wine instead of tea). They will visit relatives and friends and drinking special soups. It is said that drinking this soup originated from eating the stewed tiger killed by Mr. Zha. Later, the soup was made by stewing beef with tiger bone. Nowadays, most soups are cooked by stewing pork and dog’s meat with spring water. Recently, thanks to the development of market economy, people also do a lot of purchasing besides celebrating the festival. They always come in high spirits and go with satisfaction. The next festival is expected as soon as this just ended.

June 6th Festival is a festival devoted to sacrifice and memory. Its solemnity is only next to the Spring Festival. After the opening and reform, it is made the representative festival of the Buyi people by the local government. During this period of time each year, all areas where the Buyi people inhabit will host celebrating activities. According to the folk legend, June 6th is the day when the forefather of the Buyi people-Pan Gu King died. He and his songs innovated and improved the technique of growing rice, which ensured the better-off lives of ordinary people. Therefore, on June 6th every year, people will offer sacrifice such as chicken, port, and Zongzi (bamboo-leaf wrapped sticky rice) to Pan Gu to pray for the mild weather and full harvest next year. After the founding of PRC, more and more entertaining activities have been added such as visiting relatives and friends, climbing and feasting, performing drums, singing songs, dancing around the fire, rewarding cattle with food and drink, advocating local rules and treaties and so on. There is an extremely fervid and ebullient scenery.