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New Rice Festival

Husking dance with pestleThe Wa nationality is a farming nationality. Their productive forces were low in the past and their capacity of resisting natural disasters was comparatively weak. So many sacrifice offering activities on respecting gods and praying for good luck were formed around agricultural product. Some activities became established practice gradually and developed into festivals. The "New Rice Festival" is one of them.

"New Rice Festival" is the day when paddy is mature and people celebrate happily good harvest and taste new rice. Because of different climate, the maturity time of grain in different places is different, so the time to celebrate the festival is not unified among villages or even every household. But it was often held in the seventh or eighth lunar month (the ninth or tenth month in Wa calendar) in the past. The date is determined according to the maturity situation of grain or the day, which has the same name with any one of the 12 symbolic animals when the parents or grandparents died. The intention is to invite ghosts of ancestors to return back, taste new rice together with family members, and enjoy happiness together. They also ask the ancestors' souls in heaven to protect their descendants and promise happy family, good weather for the crops and good harvest. In order that Wa compatriots in different places could celebrate the "New Rice Festival" together, in 1991, the Cangyuan Wa Autonomous County and Ximeng Wa Autonomous County decided together that the "New Rice Festival" is fixed on the 14th of the eighth lunar month for Was.

Pouring wineEvery family celebrates the traditional New Rice Festival independently. When the day comes, the host gets up early to prepare wine, meat and delicacies for the festival, and goes to field to cut new millet. A branch of millet is hung on the door indicating calling back the spirit of the dead to home. Unhusked rice is rubbed out and baked in an iron pot over a slow fire. Then new rice is husked and cooked. After that, family sacrifice offering ceremony is held: they fill a bowl of new rice and present them and all kinds of delicacies on the spirit table. They ask wizard to chant incantations and offer sacrifice to millet god and ancestors. After the ceremony is finished, members of the family taste the new rice starting from the wizard and the old. Then host open the door to tell neighbors the news that they are celebrating the festival, and people come to congratulate with all kinds of presents. The host butcher chicken, pig or even cattle to entertain guests, and everyone enjoys together the happiness of good harvest with joyous songs and words.

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