Exploring Dap Noi festival of Tay and Nung people in Cao Bang province

Saturday, 2018-02-17 03:47:14
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Tay ethnic women making black ‘chung’ cake – an indispensable offering to the ancestors during Dap Noi festival
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NDO – For people in the northern province of Cao Bang, festivals are celebrated every month of the year. Each month is dedicated to observing a specific festival, which is unique and different from the others. The end of the first lunar month is the time for the Tay and Nung people in the province to hold their Dap Noi festival.

“Dap” in the Tay ethnic language means “end” as the festival is observed on the last day of the first lunar month, while “Noi” means “small”. Dap Noi festival could be considered as a small festival, held after the big lunar New Year festival.

To prepare for the festival, people make chung (square) cakes, che lam (sweetened porridge), and si chen cakes, which are a mixture of the leaves from the indigenous su ma and nha heo trees and sticky rice.

Hoang Thi Huong, an old Tay ethic woman in Bao Lac district, said that, since a very young age, Dap Noi has been celebrated as a traditional and unforgettable festival, revealing that a square cake is an indispensable offering to the ancestors on the occasion.

Ahead of the festival, green leaves are sold across the markets in the province, where people are busy at shopping. Children gather around the big stew pots for chung cake while the adults excitedly exchange words in a bustling atmosphere.

According to cultural researcher Le Chi Thanh, Dap Noi festival is held to bid farewell to the first lunar month, and conveys the people’s wishes for health, happiness and prosperity.

While the origin of the Dap Noi festival remains unknown, it is said that the festival was first held after Emperor Quang Trung (1753 – 1792)’s Ngoc Hoi – Dong Da victory over the Chinese Qing invaders in Spring 1789. To celebrate the victory, the emperor ordered a feast for his soldiers to welcome a belated lunar New Year festival.

Since then, the tradition has been observed annually as an occasion to welcome back those who are working far from home and are not able to celebrate the lunar New Year festival with their families and communities.

Therefore, for those who can’t make it home at the lunar New Year festival, Dap Noi is a festival of great significance for them as it helps them to fully celebrate a reunion with their families.