Major Festivals of Ethnic Minorities in China

Minority people in China boast various festivals and almost every nationality has its own major festivals. Typical examples are New Year Festival according to Tibetan Calendar for Tibetan people, Water-Splashing Festival for Dai people, Torch Festival for Yi People, Temple and Trade Fair in March for Bai people, Singing Carnival for Zhuang people and Nadam Fair for Mongolian people. In addition, some local governments have set traditional festivals for minority people as legal festivals, such as New Year Festival according to Tibetan Calendar and Corban Festival.

Corban Festival

Corban is a traditional annual festival for Islamic people, which is called Eid-al-Adjha in Arabic. Eid means festival and Adjha sacrifice, therefore this day is also called Corban. It is on Dec. 10th according to Islamic calendar and is the common festival celebrated by Chinese minority nationalities that believe in Islam, including Hui, Uygur, Kazakh, Ozbek, Tajik, Tartar, Kirgiz, Sala, Dongxiang and Baoan. Before Corban, all Islamic families would clean up their houses and be busy making various cakes for the festival. In the morning of Corban, Islamic people would tidy their clothes after taking a bath and listen to imamsí» interpretation of Koran in the mosques. Meanwhile, all families would butcher sheep, camels or oxen and distribute them to relatives, friends and guests. Corban also provides an optimum opportunity for conversation during which many Islamic people get together and share mutton, cakes, melons and fruits with others. In addition, Uygur people in Xinjiang would hold large singing and dancing performance during Corban and Kazakh, Kirgiz, Tajik and Ozbek people would hold various games to celebrate the festival, including sheep-hunting, horse racing and wrestling.

The Festival of Fast Breaking

Fast breaking is called Eid-al-Fitr in Arabic. It is in the beginning of October according to Islamic calendar and serves as the common festival celebrated by some Chinese minority nationalities, including Hui, Uygur, Kazakh, Ozbek, Tajik, Tartar, Kirgiz, Sala, Dongxiang and Baoan. Every September according to Islamic calendar is called Ramadan, which lasts for 29 or 30 days. During this period, Muslim people must finish their pre-fasting meal before sunrise and they are not allowed to eat or drink anything in the daytime no matter how hungry or thirsty they are. Meanwhile, smoking is also prohibited during Ramadan. In addition, all Muslim people are supposed to curb all their personal desires, including that of sexual intercourse, and practice abstinence during this time in order to show their allegiance to Allah. Children, elderly people and women who are undergoing menstruate are allowed not to practice fasting but they should limit their diet and must not eat or drink in public. Patients and those who are on their journey are also permitted not to conduct fasting, but they have to make up for it later; otherwise, they must hand in some property as punishment. In the evening when the bells in the mosques ring, people could suspend their fasting and begin to have their meal. During this period, even a hungry stranger passing by would be warmly welcomed in local households.

Grant and glamorous are the activities marking the festival of fast breaking and it is a common practice for Islamic people to whitewash their houses, clean up their yard, and have haircut and bath before the festival. Fast breaking is also the day favored by many young lovers to have their weddings.

New Year Festival According to Tibetan Calendar

New Year festival according to Tibetan calendar is the most important and glamorous festival for Tibetan people. It usually lasts for 15 days from the first day of a new year according to Tibetan calendar. In the morning of the festival, young people will dress up and greet one another to express their best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year. They will also go to the temples nearby to pay homage to the Buddha, or go to the streets in large groups for singing and dancing spree; however, they doní»t pay a visit to the home of their relatives and friends during this time.

Nadam Fair

Nadam fair is a traditional annual festival for Mongolian people living in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. It is held during the golden period of autumn between July and August when the grass on the meadows is ripe and the livestock in their best physical condition. Nadam means entertainment or game in Mongolian and it enjoys a long history. In the past, large-scale sacrificial rites were held during this festival and lamas would light incense and candles, recite classic Buddhist works and pray for Buddha's blessing and a happy and prosperous life. At present, the major traditional events of Nadam fair include wrestling, horse racing and archery and in some places, athletic events such as track and field matches, tug-of-war, volleyball and basketball games are also held during this festival.