Similar to many other ethnic groups, the Red Dao people have their own taboo days. After the ritual ceremony for forest deities on the first day of the first lunar month, villagers practice the day for wind taboo, thunderstorm taboo and lightning taboo. Among those taboo days, the day for ‘Kỵ Gió’ or wind taboo is an interesting one.
The Red Dao people in Dền Sáng commune, Bát Xát district, Lào Cao province choose the 20th of the first lunar month for wind taboo. Every member of the family should quietly go out of their house in very early morning and come back at 4:30 pm to 5 pm during the sunset. People can gather somewhere else but inside their houses. They have a little lunch outside. They leave everything inside their houses for the saint of wind. They believe that if they were in the house, the saint of wind would not come in. Whenever people are out of the house, the saint of wind can come to take out all risks, sorrow of the family members accumulating in the old year. The saint of wind will clean atmosphere and bring in new joy, good luck, good health, wealth and happiness for every family members. This belief has been kept for many generations until now.
A calm village of Dền Sáng. There is no one in houses on the ‘Kỵ Gió’ day
Dền Sáng is the first village we came. This village is close to the communal administrative office. On the way to the village, we saw different groups of people sitting scatter on hills or grass field along the road. We often see women and children weaving rapidly. Women and girls carry sleeping children on their back. Children are moving according to the mood of the women’s weaving action.
A embroidering group of women in Ngải Chồ village on the day of ‘Kỵ Gió’
Observing several groups, we imagine a future possibility of many cooperative groups for handicraft in Dền Sáng village. Weaving is a traditional practice of the Red Dao women in general and of the Dền Sáng women in particular. All Red Dao women know how to weave. They often bring with weaving tools everywhere they go. And today, on the day of Kỵ Gió, the Dền Sáng women are persistently weaving while keeping their children near forests, within the nature. They create clothes while they are inspired by the pattern of nature, mountains, forests, birds, trees or plants. Via vivid, sophisticated pattern, the women’s products may reflect people’s gratefulness and respect towards the saint of wind, saint of forests and other deities. To avoid any sensitive taboo on the Kỵ Gió day, I go close to an old woman and ask her whether we can take pictures of them on this occasion. The group of women laughs happily and replied in a friendly manner: “It doesn’t matter to take pictures. However you might not get beautiful pictures because it’s not a beauty here”. It was so noble, intimate and interesting atmosphere. We will bring back some pictures of the women whenever we come back here.
Saying goodbye to villagers, we come back home with a thoughtful mind of the interesting ritual. A local forest protector shares with us: “yesterday it was very rainy and cold. Today, the right day for Kỵ Gió, it changes dramatically while the sky is clear and full of sunlight. How holy it is”. We believe that saint will bless the people for a good prosperous year. As people belief, saints exist in forests, wind, sound of waterfall, and even inside each local people’s hearts.