Slope Walking Festival of Mulao Ethnic Group
“Slope Walking Festival” to Convey Love
The “slope walking festival” is generally held in the slack seasons of spring and autumn. It is celebrated between the Spring Festival and the Lantern Festival in spring, or in a country fair around the Mid-autumn Festival. For the activity, there is not any notice or announcement, and people have already known in the heart the date and place. It is said that the largest slope fields are Huayuandong on the boundary of the three villages Dongmen, Qiaotou, and Xiaochang’an as well as Xinyinpo of Siba Village. When the festival comes, young men and women are all dressed in their holiday best. The gorgeous women and natural men, in groups, gather here in the slope field from every village. They convey their feelings through songs, including the invitation songs, cross-question songs, etc., in order to promote their mutual understanding. If the two sides have a good impression upon the other one, they will sing the song of “talking love” to pour out their adorement to each other; if their love strengthens further, then they will sing the song of “love pledging” to make sure the other side to be their own lovers tentatively. When the singing in antiphonal style finishes, the young will sing the “song of feeling reluctant to part”, “song of making appointment”, to show their feelings of looking forward to meeting each other again. Especially they will present the keepsake to each other, the man giving the woman moon cakes called “the cake of the same age, “and the woman giving “the shoes of the same age,” also called “mandarin duck’s shoes,” to the man.
When they come again to the slope walking festival, the party that arrives earlier will sing “the song of watching for” first, then “the song of meeting again,” “the song of forming pairs” to sound out the other side’s sincerity, “the song of praising flower” to praise each other, “the song of missing” to express the missing feeling, as well as “the song of living together,” “the song of counting days,” and “the song of parting” to express their eager wishes of marriage and happy life. Though knowing each other well after many dating, they still can not marry each other, because according to the conventional way, they must have the consent of their parents of both sides. Then after the “matchmaker” acts as a go-between, they could finally get married.
The “slope walking festival” called by Mulao people means the activities not only on the flat dam by Longtan, but also on the nearby hillside under the green shade. Also it is a time for the young people to look for their lifelong companions, therefore called “Housheng Festival” (Housheng refers to Young man). The beautiful songs of the young men and women resound through the high mountains and deep valleys, which makes people so enchanted by the scenery that they forget to return. When walking on the slope and singing to convey their feelings, Mulao people are very exquisite and courteous, respecting each other and treating each other with all sincerity, which has shown their simple and kind outlook.