Backgrounder: unique Jiarong Tibetan New Year customs

2010-02-14 07:12:00 | From:

Danba County, located in eastern Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, enjoys the reputation of the "beauty valley" and "China's most beautiful rural area."

The Jiarong Tibetans living in Danban still maintain their unique customs of celebrating the traditional Jiarong Tibetan New Year and their customs are different from those observed by the Tibetans in other Tibetan-inhabited areas.

File photo shows Tibetan actresses at the “2009 China Sichuan Danba Jiarong Tibetan Folk Festival,” held between Oct. 25 and 30 in Sichuan.

File photo shows Tibetan actresses at the "2009 China Sichuan Danba Jiarong Tibetan Folk Festival," held between Oct. 25 and 30 in Sichuan, photo from Xinhua.

It is said that the Jiarong Tibetan New Year, marked on the 12th day of the 12th month of the year according to the lunar calendar, is held in the memory of their household hero Anige'erdong, who drove out evil spirits and subdued monsters.

Days before the new year, Danba villages are decorated. According to their customs, the locals paint the walls of their houses with the white dye made mainly of the white earth. Then they will draw the sky, earth, sun, moon, stars, various species of animals and religious patterns on the walls.

On the eve of the new year, Danba people seat together with their family members for a delicious feast cooked especially for the occasion. The seat for the head of the table is usually empty and is said to be reserved for Anige'erdong. They would chant scriptures for a while before they start eating to pray for the return of their hero.

On the first day of the new year, Danban families try to be the first to get up in the morning to get the first bucket of water. It is a custom locally that the family who wins the title of the first will enjoy a smooth new year. The elder of a family will also burn incense on the roof of their house to pray for a safe year for his/her family.

The local foods during the new year are also unique to the Danba people. In addition to steamed pickled mustard-green stuffed buns and baked steamed bread, the Tibetan pig leg is also a must-eat.

Smoked with pine branches, air dried and stored for the winter, the leg is fragrant, tender and nutritious.


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