The Zhouxi Lusheng Festival is one of the many festivals that take place in Kaili, China. It is a festival that is specific to a minority Miao group in China and has been taking place since 1999. This festival is celebrated in the provinces of Sichuan, Yannan and Guizhou. It is one of the biggest ethnic traditional festivals that takes place in China.
The name of the festival is derived from the bamboo instrument lusheng and is the main attraction of the festival. The lusheng is a bamboo stick that has a various number of reeds, just like a guitar has strings. Although it doesn’t exactly look like a guitar, the purpose of those reeds is to allow a various number of notes to be played. The number of reeds in a good lusheng is 6. The lusheng is a Miao version of the Scottish bagpipe.
The festival takes place in the first lunar month of the calendar and starts on the 16th of that month. For this festival, hundreds and thousands of people belonging to the Miao ethnic group come together to celebrate this festival. Hundreds of well-behaved young boys exhibit their skill by playing this reed instrument. The Miao girls, on the other hand, in equal number, dress up in traditional clothing and perform the lusheng dance in rings to the rhythm of the instrument. The festival also takes place in the Lusheng Stadium in Zhouxi.
The lusheng festival is celebrated because it is a means through which the ethnic Miao group asks for a bumper harvest, good weather, good health and a good year. Apart from that, it is also a courtship festival where young admirers can express their love through this performance. This festival gives the youngsters an opportunity to find a suitable partner for themselves. The girls look extremely beautiful as they perform their delicate dance and the boys appear proud and dignified as they play skilfully on the Lusheng. Although the festival was originally held for courtship purposes, it has now expanded and incorporates general prayers and celebration. On the 20th of the first lunar month, the festival reaches its climax.
Although the festival revolves around the show of skill with the Lusheng, it also involves various other ethnic Miao activities such as bullfighting, chess, horse-racing, mountain climbing, and tug of war. Therefore, the festival caters to a large group of people. Each individual can view or take part in the activity that interests them the most. Each year, the festival attracts more than forty thousand people. This is an opportunity for tourists and travellers to gain insight into one of the ethnic groups’ culture and tradition.
The Lusheng is considered an important instrument and is not only used in the festival alone. It is used in many other arts and performances as well, such as aerobics and all manners of dance, because of its unique sound. Because of this very reason, it has become exclusively associated with the Miao culture.
If the Lusheng festival is missed in the first lunar month, it also takes place in the ninth lunar month from the 27th to the 29th in Gulong. It is almost as grand a festival as the one that takes place in the first lunar month in Kaili and hosts between thirty to forty thousand people.