Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Akha women get into the New Year swing

Travel log August 12, 2017 07:00

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See this colourful and fascinating hilltribe festival throughout the months of August and September in Thailand’s northern-most province of Chiang Rai.

The Akha Swing Festival 2017 in Chiang Rai is one of the most interesting cultural rituals in the Thailand Events Calendar. It normally takes place in the rainy month of August to celebrate life and the fertility of the coming harvest season.

The Akha Swing Festival is one of the most important annual festivals for the Akha hilltribe people in Chiang Rai province. The objective of the festival is to commemorate the goddess of fertility, celebrate the abundant crops waiting to be harvested in the rainy season, and also to honour the Akha women. The Swing Festival is also regarded as the ‘Women’s New Year’ for the Akha and all the village women will be looking forward to joining this important ceremony.

For the Akha women, the Swing Festival offers the opportunity for them to wear the costumes and the ornaments they have spent all year making, and to show that they are becoming older and of marriageable age. The festival features sacred rituals, celebrations and dances held to pay respect to the ancestors as well as to enjoy and welcome the harvest seasons.

Highlight of the Akha Swing Festival is when the women fly on the giant swing made of bamboo and wood and they would ride back and forth at terrifying heights, often at the edge of cliffs. As they fly into the air, they would be singing, laughing, screaming, and reciting Akha verses and expect the heavens to answer their call for a good harvest and a promising future. The event is full of energy and tribal music. Visitors are welcome to witness this exotic festival.

The festival takes place during August and September, winding up on September 30 at the Center for Social Development Unit 12, Akha Village, Chiang Rai. For further information, contact the TAT Office in Chiang Rai on Tel. 0 5371 7433.