Hotline/WhatsApp: (+84) 936 154 283
Hotline/WhatsApp: (+84) 936 154 283

Fire Dancing – A primitive and mysterious festival

Fire Dancing of Pa Then people

Fire Dancing (Fire Ball) is a traditional festival of the Pa Then people in My Bac village, Tan Bac commune, Quang Binh district, Ha Giang province, usually held on October 16 (lunar calendar) every year when harvest has been completed. This is a unique festival, bold in Shamanism, primitive and mysterious.
Traditionally, Fire Jumping is associated with the shaman profession initiation ceremony – held for shamans to accept students and pass on their profession. In the Pa Then language, the shaman profession initiation ceremony is called “Poc Quo”, the Fire Dancing festival is called “Po Dinh Hoi A To”. Today, this festival is widely known as the Fire Dancing Festival of the Pa Then people.
Normally, the Fire Dancing Festival takes place according to each family. Every family that organizes an event together prepares offerings, including: a rooster, a bowl of rice, incense, a bottle of wine, paper moneyโ€ฆ Other members of the family are responsible for preparing dry firewood. The main participants include the shaman (Pac Man) and the students (To Thich). In the past, a fire dancing group usually had about 10 – 12 students and all had to be students of that shaman. Nowadays, the number of people learning to be shamans is not as large as before, so there are only 5-6 people left to dance and they do not have to be students of the same teacher, but can be young men in the village. Other worshipers can also participate.
The festival officially starts around 8pm. At the beginning, the shaman lights candles and places offerings on the offering tray, then lights three incense sticks and puts them in the incense bowl on the table, then lights three other incense sticks and puts them on the ground next to the chair where the shaman sits. After that, the teacher sat in the offering chair, holding a bamboo stick in one hand and a Pa san tau hula hoop in the other hand, tapping the bamboo stick on the Pan Do instrument while swinging the ring, his body shaking with each beat, mouth reciting the offering. First, he explain the reason for organizing the Fire Dancing Festival in Pa Then language. The shaman ordered his students to light a fire in a pile of wood, then he took a bowl of fragrant water and sprinkled it into the four corners of the fire and sprinkled it on his students. Next, the teacher returned to the worship altar, played the Pan Do and shook the Pa san tau continuously, reading the offerings to “exorcise” his soul to heaven to find the gods to enter the young men who were waiting. When worshiping, the teacher’s head shakes, his legs vibrate regularly to the beat of the Pan Do instrument, the Pa San Tau music on his left hand also vibrates rhythmically, creating a tumultuous, rushing sound. The Pa Then people believe that at this time the teacher is traveling in the other world to find the gods. The other world is an invisible world, only thanks to the “underworld” ghosts supporting the shaman can he see and go on the right path where the “Pa Quo” male ghosts are residing.

Fire Dancing

Through the offerings and music, the Pa Then people believe that the shaman’s path to find the god and return to fire dancing is very arduous and strenuous, sometimes having to go through a devil’s cave. Therefore, the shaman must be a skilled teacher with a lot of magic and troops to be able to do it.

After the music started, along with the shaman’s call for about 20 – 30 minutes, the boys’ bodies began to vibrate, their eyes looked strange, their heads shook back and forthโ€ฆ They thought that the gods from heaven came down and entered those people. Just like that, they rushed to dance in the middle of the red fire, with bare feet and using their hands to pick up coals, the coals covered a bright red color around the dancers, some even put the embers in their mouths to chew. When one person finishes jumping and rushes out from the embers, another person follows, and sometimes two or three people jump in at the same time. They waved in the blazing firelight before the cheers and encouragement of onlookers as if they did not feel the heat of the embers. Meanwhile, the shaman continued to play the instrument and read the prayers as if joining in with the dance of the students, his whole body vibrating on the chair.

Ha Giang scenery

When one person finishes his fire dancing performance, he returns to sit next to the shaman and a moment later his body shakes again, his head shakes continuously, then suddenly another person rushes into the fire to dance with the embers. Fire jumping goes on like that for about an hour – When the fire dies, it’s rekindled, then jumping continues until the pile of coals completely burns out. When the fire completely dies down, the shaman will read a prayer to send the ghosts back to heaven, at which point his students will gradually wake up. The strangest thing is that they don’t feel any pain and don’t get burned.

At the end of the festival, the shaman reads an offering to thank the gods for coming down to entertain the villagers, prays for the gods to bless the villagers with prosperity and health, and promises to invite the gods come down to join in the next time they dance through the fire again.

The Fire Dancing Festival of the Pa Then people has a long history and has been preserved and maintained for many generations. The festival not only reflects the role and status of shamans in past society, but is also evidence of cultural elements, primitive beliefs, belief in the spirit world and supernatural forces.

Hoang Su Phi scenery

The Fire Dancing Festival is also a cultural heritage representing the ethnic group, known as a unique identity of the Pa Then community. When mentioning the Fire Dancing Festival, people immediately think of the Pa Then people and vice versa. This is also the only festival of the Pa Then people still maintained today…

๐Ÿ’ฅ Suggested activities:

โœ… Tour guide will pick you up at your hotel
โœ… Depart for Ha Giang
โœ… Check in at the resort or Homestay in Quang Binh district
โœ… Experience the fire dancing festival of the Pa Then people
โœ… Visit terraced fields in Hoang Su Phi
โœ… Visit the village of indigenous people
โœ… Enjoy local cuisine
โœ… VAT Tax & Service charges
โœ… Travel insurance and other included services


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