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Mong ethnic people celebrate New Year

The annual traditional holiday of the Mong ethnic minority group, known as Nao Pe Chau, takes place at the end of the 11th lunar month. The event is held to celebrate the end of the harvest and spend time relaxing together.

The custom has been handed down through many generations of the Mong ethnic group in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien and takes place one month before the nation's Lunar New Year (Tet).

On the last day of 11th lunar month, people clean up and decorate their houses, and families get together to make glutinous rice dumpling. After men pound the rice into a flexible soft substance, women form the soft powder into small, round dumplings and cover them in banana leaves.

Families make as many dumplings as they can to eat and to give as gifts to relatives and friends, whilst the biggest dumplings are set aside as offerings for the ancestors.

Mong people believe the dumplings represent the sun, the moon and the universe, which are the origins of all lifeforms.

The ceremony always takes place in the last afternoon of the 11th lunar month early morning of the first day of the 12th lunar month. Their customs include sweeping kitchen smoke and collecting lucky water.

Folk singing and music played on flutes and the two-string fiddle add a festive vibe to the festive atmosphere.

After the folk art performances, young people take part in folk games to find their future partners.

Ho Song Lu, head of Pu Sua village, Ang Cang commune, Muong Ang district, said the event was an indispensable cultural activity for local people.

“It plays an important part in encouraging local solidarity, giving people a chance to look back at the past year and make plans for the new one. It also provides a chance for young people to find partners,” he said.

According to the statistics from 2009, there were over 1 million Mong people in the country, making them the sixth largest ethnic minority group in Vietnam.

Mong people reside mostly in Ha Giang, Dien Bien, Son La, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Yen Bai and Cao Bang.