Chang Ha Festival of Gin Ethnic Group

“Chang Ha Festival” features the grandest traditional festival of Jing people. “Chang Ha” in the Jing dialect means singing. There is a legend about the origin of the festival. In the Chen Dynasty of Vietnam, a singer-immortal came to the Jing people inhabited area, where he mobilized Jing people to stand up against the ruling Chen Dynasty in the name of teaching songs and dance. Later, he had won the love and respect of Jing people, who built the “Ha pavilion” to commemorate him. Especially, his melodious and beautiful songs have been well received by people there, so the latter generations sing the praises of him through their songs. As time passes, the annual event of Cha Ha has become the festival Jing people.

However, the date of the festival varies from region to region, on the tenth day of June of the lunar calendar in Wanwei and Wutou; the tenth day of August in Shanxin.

The venue of Chang Ha Festival is arranged in the Ha Pavilion. The pavilion is constructed with well selected timber, featuring a unique national style. Inside the pavilion there also erect the God statue and memorial tablets of the ancestor.

Before the festival comes, Jing people hurry to finish various kinds of work, then decorate their houses to receive guests. On the day of the festival, the old and young, men and women in splendid attire coming from different places will gather before the Ha Pavilion to hold the activities of offering sacrifice to the ancestors, greeting the god, Chang Ha, etc. The professional singers “Ha sisters” will be invited. Meanwhile, other recreational activities will also be held.  The whole festival can roughly be divided into the following four procedures, with taking the seat and Chang Ha as the main part.

First, greeting the god. On the eve of the Changha Festival, people will great the village god, such as “King of Guarding the Sea” of Wanwei, into the “Ha Pavilion.”

Second, holding a memorial ceremony for the god. It starts at about three o’clock in the afternoon on the day of greeting the god. People hold various kinds of ceremonies. Kill “Yang Xiang” at first. The head hosting Chang Ha organizes the participants to raise a big for each of them. The most heavy and fat one will appraised through comparison at the memorial ceremony, and is then named, “Yang Xiang.” After killing it, except the part given to the Chang Ha participants, the remaining part will belong to the owner.

Third, taking the seat. According to the custom, after holding a memorial ceremony for the god, every man of local Jing Nationality is allowed to take a seat as long as he reaches certain age (12 years old in Wanwei, 18 years old in Wutou, 19 years old in Shanxin). However, when taking their seats, they must sit, according to their status, on the multilevel steps in the eastern and the western sides of the central hall in the pavilion. People are drinking and eating in the banquet, eight people at one table, while listening to the songs and appreciating the dance. It generally lasts three days and nights. Women are not allowed to take the seats, and can only sit besides to hold the dish plates and listen to Chang Ha. There are three main roles in Chang Ha, a man called “Ha Brother,” and two women called “Ha Sister.” These three people are generally invited from Vietnam specially. Two “Ha Sister” sings in turn, while “Ha Brother” accompanies with the musical instrument. The leading singer stands in the middle of Ha pavilion, striking small bamboo clappers in her hand while singing.

Another singer sits on the ground, with both her hands striking bamboo clappers, joining in the chorus. After “Ha Sister” finishes one sentence, “Ha Brother” will play a melody with his trichord. The two echo each other until the leading singer gets tired. Then the other “Ha Sister” stands up to be the leading singer.

Chang Ha has its own songbook, generally written in “Nan” character. The content is colorful, covering national poems, legendary stories, and classical poems and love songs of the Han nationality.

 Fourth, seeing the god off. It starts after Chang Ha is over.