At festivals such as during the lunar New Year, an open fire is lit at the site of the festive feast. In the first circle around the fire sit the village elders and invited guests; next, a circle of women, and then a circle of young men. The mother of each girl sits nearby. A contest proceeds, when male and female singers pair off. The themes of the songs express love and beauty, heavily veiled in metaphors and subtle allusions,. The male singer starts the improvisation and the women responds.
This is a competition to not only test the singing voices of the couples, but also their cleverness in simultaneously improvising new words to old songs. The atmosphere is charged with teasing, claps and cheers. Later, the entire village joins in and sings traditional songs.
During the Lunar New Year in Sanjiang, Liping and Congjiang counties, the Dong hold commemorative activities to honor their "Grandmother". A procession of young men and women carry hunting rifles to mimic going off to battle, in memory of a Dong heroine, Xing Ni, who died for the Dong's freedom over 1000 years ago. Known as "Sasui" (Grandmother in Dong language), many villages have erected temples in her horror.
The young people stop along the way to fire off shots, and let off firecrackers. Small iron cannons placed in the fields are likewise set off, creating a cacophony of noise (right). Men carry flags and guns decorated with leaves and paper streamers. Each village has its own unique from of decoration.
Late in the day a feast is held for the young people. The young men bring out skewers of grilled pork (a symbol of union) and glutinous rice cakes to give as gifts to the women. They then escort the women home.
Upon reaching the women's village, couples can be alone with one another at an appointed spot near the girl's home. There they will sing love songs to one another and share the food given.
Zhaoxing Tang'An Chengyang
Culture of Dongs
Sanyuejie Festival Marriage Customs Music New Year Traditional costumes
Drum Towers Flower Bridges Lusheng Festival
Dong Houses Carrying the Governors Parade
Drama Rice Planting Traditional Common Law Worship the Goddess Sa Sui