The Tay in Lang Son are cheerfully celebrating the Lunar New Year festival, the most important event of the year. To the boisterous sounds of gongs and drums, the Tay prepare thoroughly to welcome a lion dance troupe to visit their home on the first days of the new year.
|Lion dance of the Tay at the Long tong festival in Lang Son.
The spring is the lull in the year for the Tay people in Thanh Hoa commune, Lang Son province, to relax and wear beautiful clothes and pay Tet visits to their relatives. The most exciting activity is the lion dance. For several months before Tet, lion dance troupes have practiced to have the best good-luck-praying-performances for the community. From noon of the first day of the new year, the communal lion dance troupe begins to visit every household. Luan Van Son, a member of Thanh Hoa lion dance troupe, says: “The Tay lion dance is to pray for a prosperous new year. No family has ever refused a lion dance troupe. They dance on the staircase and go into the house, kneel in front of the ancestral altar, and dance to go down. They will return to the house and drink wine with the house’ owners. They will sing and tell stories together.”The performance is accompanied by drums, gongs, and cymbals. Two people wear big and small lion heads, which are beautifully decorated with golden ribbons and 5-colored cotton balls on their heads and ears. The design of the lion body is different in different localities. The Tay in Van Lang collage colorful stripes to make a 5-cofored piece of cloth.
The Tay love the lion dance for its strong movements, representing the sportsmanship of mountain people. Villager Dinh Khoa says: “We begin dancing from the last 3 days of the old year up the 15th day of the new year. I have followed my grandfather and father from when I was 7 or 8 years old, and I have upheld this tradition. The lion dance prays for the house owner’s prosperous business and for filial and studious children.”
The lion dance is a combination of dances to tell a tale, performing martial arts with or without weapons, and playing music. The performers must be strong, enduring, and imaginative to imitate the movements of a lion, tiger, or cat. A lion dance has 7 to 8 members. One plays the big lion head; a child plays a small lion head; some people beat gongs, drums, and cymbals; and two people perform the characters of a monkey and a gibbon. Luong Quoc Trinh, chief of Min hamlet, Thanh Hoa commune, says: “The lions dance to the house and go down to bring in good luck and take away the bad luck of the old year.”
The Tay in Thanh Hoa commune joyously welcome the new year. The women are busy preparing a meal to receive guests.
The owner of the house is praying in front of the ancestral altar to bless them with prosperity, full baskets of rice, and lot of luck.