Lahu new year 2011

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Rod Page, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. Ban Pang Ma Hun (on the way to Hua Mae Kham past Thoed Thai)
    5th February 2011
    8am- 5pm.

    Ceremonies to include:
    - Rod Nam Dam Hua (calling on the ancestors for their blessing);
    - Tam Kap Pook (the pounding of rice with sesame to produce a special Lahu food);
    - Traditional Lahu entertainment & dancing.
  2. The road out of Thoed Thai to Hua Mae Kham is a favourite. Rarely visited by Thais, who fear the area is 'dangerous', little known to foreigners, it has only recently become accessible along a recently sealed road. This is raw, fabulous Thailand - towering mountains, massive forests, fertile valleys & the most fascinating people to be found anywhere; hill-tribe people with their own histories, languages, clothing & religions dating back thousands of years into central China.

    We were heading for Pang Ma Hua - an isolated village on the way to Hua Mae Kham, where the hill-tribes who grew the opium poppies for Khun Sa, the world's biggest heroin supplier for 30 years into the early 2000's, live.

    New Year is THE big day for the Lahu - a day to seek blessing (the Lahu believe in an omnipotent power), to show respect to one's ancestors, to offer gifts, to ceremoniously wash the hands of others, to dance, to spin tops & to throw balls, to fire crackers & to feast.

    Entering Ban Pang Ma Hua:


    As we were early we strolled through the village finding a future GTR & kids readying themselves for the festivities ahead....


    Pick-up loads of Lahu were arriving by the minute & we moved to a large covered area with a substantial stage to find musicians patiently waiting & older folk scurrying down to take up vantage points:


    Up behind the village the throng was assembling. When this gathering of many Lahu tribes started their march down to commence the festivities with fireworks & ritual dancing the sight was on such a massive scale for such a small village that I looked on totally stunned, forgetting I even had a camera! The first photo I took, taken within minutes of their arrival, gives you an idea:


    They dance for hours with a basic 'theme' varying between different sub-tribes around the 'Year Tree'/Tree of Life under which an altar on which offerings (including a recently slaughtered pig's head) are placed. It represents the opportunity to seek health, a good harvest, peace in their hearts & minds, many children & many animals, family & village stability, & to pay respect to their ancestors.

    It is mesmorising & I enclude a few photos below of various musicians on pipes & percussion followed by dancers in differing costumes to mark their tribe:


    Schooling at Pang Ma Hua village caters for not only Lahu children but also a couple of Akha & a sole Lisu family. Here some of the pupils, then an Akha girl points with a Lisu girl whilst the Lahu look on:


    (to be continued.........................)

    Attached files 266575=2145-IMG_3663. 266575=2139-IMG_3690. 266575=2146-IMG_3695. 266575=2142-IMG_3703.
  3. ......Continuation from earlier post......
    (apologies for 'attached images' at end of earlier post - no idea how to delete.)

    After several hours dancing a temporary stop was called to permit organisers & dignatories to be offered gifts & have their hands ceremoniously washed. New year is marked by 'new' water & villagers move between households & individuals 'bathing' those they hold in esteem & wishing blessings on them.

    New year celebrations actually run for up to 5 days. Families have already made & exchanged rice cakes made from rice given by every household in the village. Here village elders pound the rice mixed with sesame seed recognising Lahu belief that God gave the Lahu his word on a rice cake:


    Villagers then participated in a number of different games - here men & boys play spinning tops trying to knock the spinning tops of others away whilst leaving their own spinning:


    Young unmarried boys & girls throw cloth balls amongst themselves - a means of getting to know others from other villages often leading to marriage:


    Woman & girls use large seeds from a jungle vine in a game where the aim is to knock down the seeds by throwing separate seeds from a distance:


    It was time for the school children to dance for those present. Just look at how captivated those in attendance were:


    So too were several of the adults in attendance:


    Attached files 266576=2154-IMG_3703.
  4. Rod
    Nice one with beautiful photos.
    You've certainly been getting out &about.
    Many thanks for the contributions.
  5. I initially posted these shots on the GTR thread "Video Shan State". They show a gathering of Black & Red Lahu celebrating New Year in february (2011) just out of Vana Luang near Soppong (Pang Mapha); the earlier photos on this site are of a gathering of 15 Red Lahu tribes.

    I re-post them here as they are better suited to this thread, give a global impression of the rich cultural heritage on display in northern Thailand & to tempt others to witness these spectacular events:






  6. Bump Davidfl & Ron - with H'mong New Year upon us I recall that last new Year the Lahu celebrated the event within a month after the H'mong festivities. My contact at Doi Tung is no longer there but I'm sure that John (Rim Taan) will be able to find out. Ban Pang Ma Hua was HUGE last year (in terms of Lahu particpants) so I feel positive about their trying to re-organise the event this year.
  7. David's recent post on the Teen Jok Festival at Mae Chaem brought the memories flooding back.

    One of the great delights of living in Northern Thailand is the opportunity to get out on some great roads offering stunning scenery & to combine it with an insight into the lives of a fascinating group of people, the hill-tribes.

    With Chinese New Year just around the corner - February 19th - I was taken back to this post feeling it was a good medium to inspire those looking for adventure & reward to seek out & attend a New Year's Festival amongst the hill-tribes in the stunning setting in which they live.

    An outing you'll not forget quickly.

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