In July when the Olympic torch relay is underway throughout Mainland China, we are embracing the coming of the Torch Festival. On this traditional festival of some Chinese ethnic minorities, we launch the carnival of July, and light the dreams and blessings as well.

Brief Introduction to the Torch Festival

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The Torch Festival is a traditional festival celebrated among some ethnic minorities in Southwestern China, including Yi, Bai, Hani, Lisu, Naxi, Pumi, Lahu etc. The festival features lighting up torches, hence its name. It usually falls in early June of the lunar calendar or on the 24th or 25th of the month, usually lasting for three days of celebrations. The origin of the festival may have something to do with the worship of fire by ancestors, who believed fire had the power to repel insects, drive away evils and hence protect crop growth. For some ethnic groups, it is a tradition of the festival for elders to share farming experience with young people and admonish them to take care of crops.

Legend about the Torch Festival

From the forming and evolving processes of the legends of the Torch Festival, we can see that the historical accumulation of different levels are synchronized with the long-term development of the Festival in the ethnic minorities in southwest regions. The legend kept developing during the long process of spreading and even influenced the festival customs in some regions, therefore the primitive, "sacrifice-oriented" Torch Festival has also been attached with the connotation of "commemorative festival".

Snapshots on the Torch Festival

The Torch Festival is usually held for three days on end. The first day is called "duzai", meaning greeting the fire.
  • Chanting sutras and sacrificing the fire
  • Tuotuo meat (lump meat)
  • Playing with torches
The second day of the festival is called "duge", meaning eulogizing and praising fire; it is the climax of the Torch Festival.
  • Horse race
  • Wrestle
  • Singing
  • Playing with torches
  • Beauty contest
The third day of the Torch Festival is called "duoha" or "dusha", meaning sending off the fire; it is the end of the Torch Festival.
  • Chanting sutras and praying
  • Bonfire carnival
  • Bonfire carnival