Gau Tao Festival, Ha Giang: Unique Cultural Colors of the H’Mong People

by Lam Pham

Gau Tao Festival, Ha Giang is not only an ordinary entertainment activity but also a place to bring ethnic minorities in the highlands together. With cultural and spiritual beliefs and bustling activities, coming to the festival you will have interesting and unforgettable experiences. In this article, let’s Karst Plateau find out what is special about this festival!

1. Introduction to Gau Tao Festival

The Gau Tao festival typically takes place from the 1st to the 15th day of the Lunar New Year

Ha Giang is the land located in the northernmost part of Vietnam. This place is not only famous for its majestic mountains and amazing natural landscapes but also for the convergence of many unique cultural festivals. One of the most typical and unique festivals of the H’Mong people in Ha Giang is the Gau Tao Festival. This is a festival imbued with national identity, showing the spirit of solidarity, and gratitude to ancestors and wishing for a peaceful and happy new year.

The Gau Tao festival typically takes place from the 1st to the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. This is an ancient religious activity of the fathers preserved and developed by the children of the Northwest high mountains to this day.

Mong people eagerly participate in the festival with colorful traditional costumes

The Mong people in Ha Giang are a large community with more than 200,000 people, accounting for more than 30% of the province’s population and about 25% of the Mong population in the country. These ethnic minorities have long been scattered, and they continue to face material hardships. However, their spiritual culture is extremely rich and diverse. The Gau Tao Festival was born from the harshness of life in the high mountains combined with the lyricism of the people, which is the image that represents that.

2. Origin and meaning of the festival

2.1 Origin of Gau Tao Festival

They organize the Gau Tao festival to pray to the gods, hoping for blessings

The Gau Tao Festival originated from the folk beliefs of the H’Mong people. For a long time, people have held this festival to pray for blessings, good luck, fortune, and children. Traditionally, when a family has someone with a long-term illness that cannot be cured or encounters many unfortunate events, they organize the Gau Tao festival to pray to the gods, hoping for blessings.

2.2 Meaning of the Gao Tao Festival

Ha Giang Gau Tao Festival will always be maintained and become a symbol in Ha Giang culture and tourism

The Gau Tao Festival of the H’Mong people in Ha Giang is not only a rich and unique spiritual experience, but also a symbol of solidarity and sincere love in the community. From the sacred aspirations and souls of the ancients, the festival has evolved into a cultural symbol. It connects generations and inculcates the traditions and beliefs of the H’Mong people. The intersection of joy, love, and spirituality at the festival is not only the pride of the Mong ethnic group but also a bridge to bring understanding and respect between different ethnic groups in the country.

The diversity of the festival opens a new space for cultural exchange and tourism, where traditional values ​​and community spirit are shared and honored. This is not only a prominent event in the cultural life of the Mong people but also a rich and precious heritage of Vietnam. It helps spread cultural values and shape national identity in the context of globalization.

3. Main Activities in Gau Tao Festival

This Festival is divided into two main parts: the ceremony and the festival. Each part has unique rituals and festivals, clearly showing the culture and beliefs of the H’Mong people:

3.1 The Ritual Part 

Everyone together planted a Neu tree soaring high on the hard ground to announce the location of the festival

The ritual is a solemn ritual, expressing the reverence and gratitude of the H’Mong people to the gods and ancestors. The rituals in the ceremony include:

Erecting the Neu Tree: People consider this tree a symbol of the connection between humans and the divine world. They usually make the Neu tree from bamboo, decorating the top with colorful ornaments and spiritual symbols.

Offering Rituals: The host family prepares a tray of food, fruits, wine, and other offerings. The Hmong shaman performs the offering ceremony, playing an important role in connecting with the gods and conveying the family’s prayers.

Thanksgiving ritual: After the end of the offering, the family will hold a Thanksgiving ceremony, offer words of thanks, and hope that the gods will bless the family to be healthy and prosperous.

3.2 The Festive Part

Khen dancing competition at the Gau Tao festival of the H’Mong people

The festival part is the most vibrant and bustling part of the Gau Tao Festival, with a variety of cultural, sports, and entertainment activities. This is also an opportunity for H’Mong people to meet, exchange, and show the spirit of community solidarity.

Folk Games: Organizers arrange many traditional folk games during the festival.

Competitions: They hold several interesting competitions, such as rice cake pounding, embroidery, and handicraft-making contests. These competitions aim to honor the skills and craftsmanship of the H’Mong people while preserving and promoting traditional cultural values.

Art Performances: Folk art performances and traditional musical instruments such as the Khèn, flute, and mouth harp are performed by local artists. The Khèn dance, in particular, is an essential part of the festival, showcasing the strength, flexibility, and artistry of the H’Mong people.

See more: Top 5 unique festivals in Ha Giang that you should not miss

4. The Role and Significance of the Gau Tao Festival in H’Mong Life

The Gau Tao Festival is not only an important cultural event but also holds great significance in the spiritual and social life of the H’Mong people.

Preserving Ethnic Culture

This is not only an outstanding event in the cultural life of the Mong people but also a rich and precious heritage of Vietnam.

The Gau Tao Festival is an occasion for the H’Mong people to preserve and promote their traditional cultural values. Through rituals, games, and art activities, younger generations are educated about the history, beliefs, and customs of their ethnic group. This contributes to the preservation and transmission of valuable cultural heritage from generation to generation.

Strengthening Community Solidarity

The festival is an opportunity for the H’Mong people, both within and outside the region, to meet, interact, and strengthen their solidarity. The collective activities during the festival help people understand, share, and support each other. The communal spirit is clearly demonstrated through the enthusiastic participation of everyone in the festival activities.

Praying for Peace and Prosperity

The Gau Tao Festival has deep spiritual significance, serving as a time for the H’Mong people to pray for peace, health, and prosperity in the new year. Sincere prayers and offering rituals reflect the H’Mong people’s strong belief in the protection of their deities and ancestors.

Promoting Cultural Tourism

This festival attracts a large number of tourists every year

The Gau Tao Festival attracts not only local participants but also visitors from near and far. The festival provides tourists with the opportunity to explore and experience the unique cultural aspects of the H’Mong people.

Gau Tao Festival, Ha Giang is an important and meaningful cultural event of the H’Mong people. Not only is it an opportunity to pray for good fortune, health, and happiness, but the festival is also an opportunity to preserve and promote traditional cultural values, strengthen community solidarity, and develop cultural tourism. With unique and rich features, the Gau Tao Festival will definitely bring visitors memorable and profound experiences about Ha Giang culture. Karst Plateau wishes you a fun and memorable trip.

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