Black Thai, White Thai gather for an inaugural celebration of a shared culture
A show by more than 800 artists and performers has opened the first Thai Ethnic Group Festival in the northern Vietnamese province of Lai Chau.
The show showcased the spirituality, daily lives and traditional values of ethnic Thai people, who live in eight provinces in Vietnam.
Audiences saw dancing and songs from White Thai women with broad-rim bamboo hats, Black Thai women with pieu embroidered scarves, and Thai men playing tinh tau (guitar-like instruments) and pi pap (bamboo flutes).
The show reflected various legends and events like Le Xuong Dong (Farming Ceremony), Le Mung Com Moi (Good Harvest Celebration) and Le Mung Nha Moi (New House Celebration).
The three-day festival, ending today, gathered 2,000 artists, craftspeople and athletes from Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Son La, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces.
Various folk games, costumed performances, art exchanges and cooking exhibitions have been taking place in the provincial capital.
Traditional Thai food has attracted the most visitors. Favourite dishes include dried pork, baked fish and salad made from buffalo skin.
Xoi tim (steamed purple sticky rice) is an especially popular dish. To make the rice purple, branches and leaves of khau cam trees are boiled.
“Sticky rice raised in the mountains should be soaked in water for six to eight hours before being steamed with purple water,” said Lo Thi Kim, a resident of Muong So Commune in Lai Chau’s Phong Tho district.
She said the sticky rice should be cooked in a clean container over fresh wood for maximum flavour. The cook should also turn the rice over regularly to make sure it’s well done.
Tong Thi Bang, a Thai woman from northern Son La, was keen for people from other areas to teach her some new ways to cook Thai dishes.
Ha Van Muon, from central Thanh Hoa, bought handicrafts as gifts for family back home. “I want to buy everything here and bring it home with me,” he said.
Ha Thu Mai, a resident of Lai Chau City, hoped the festival would draw in more tourists. “Other provinces can attract tourists, too, if they host festivals,” she said.
Lai Chau is home to the most Thai people in Vietnam – 400,000, or 37 per cent of the province’s population.
As many as 150,000 tourists come to the province every year, 20,000 of whom are foreigners, according to local authorities.