Fire-dancing tribe exorcise the demons in northern Vietnam

By Giang Huy   March 5, 2018 | 12:17 pm GMT+7

Young men hotfoot it through the flames as part of the Pa Then's spring festival.

The Pa Then ethnic minorities in the northern provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang on Friday and Saturday gathered for their traditional Fire Dancing Festival. The spring festival, which is held to exorcise spiritual demons and pray for a healthy harvest, began with a local shaman playing ritualistic songs on a traditional string instrument to invoke spirits.

The Pa Then ethnic minority group in the northern provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang gathered on Friday and Saturday for their traditional Fire Dancing Festival. The spring festival, which is held to exorcise spiritual demons and pray for a healthy harvest, began with a local shaman playing a traditional stringed instrument to invoke the spirits.

Before people could participate in the festivities, the shaman must hold an offering ceremony for the fire and water gods to ask for permission.

Before the festivities started, the shaman made offerings to the fire and water gods.

The fire dancers, selected from young Pa Then men, watch the ceremony as they eagerly wait for their turn to participate in the festival.

The fire dancers, selected from young Pa Then men, watch the ceremony as they eagerly await for their turn to participate in the festival.

A large bonfire is built in the middle of the field. Before the dance, each of the dancers took turn sitting across from the shaman while he performed a ritual to induce the dancers into a trance.

A large bonfire was lit in the middle of the field. Before the ceremony, each of the dancers took turns sitting opposite the shaman while he performed a ritual to induce them into a trance.

Once the ceremonies finally concluded, the dancers, protected by the spirits, leaped into the bonfire.

Once the rituals were finally concluded, the dancers, protected by the spirits, leapt into the bonfire.

A fire dancers jumps around on the burning logs while grabbing and throwing red-hot coals into the air with his hands.

A fire dancer jumps around on the burning logs while grabbing and throwing red-hot coals into the air with his hands.

The dancers repeated their performances every 20 minutes, which got even more exciting each time.

The dancers repeated their performances every 20 minutes, and they got even more exciting each time.

Throughout the performances, none of the fire dancers had anything to protect their hands and feet from the fire but their skins, thickened by years of climbing mountains and working on the fields.

None of the fire dancers had any protection on their hands and feet apart from the thick skin earned from years of climbing mountains and working in the fields.

Despite spending about 30 minutes in the fire, none of the dancers suffered any burn.

Despite spending about 30 minutes in the fire, none of the dancers were burnt.

This year, the festival attracted a crowd of about 10,000 people, both locals and visitors.Once dismissed as superstitious and banned by the Vietnamese authorities, the fire dance is now performed publicly and is listed as intangible cultural heritage by the government.

This year, the festival attracted a crowd of about 10,000 people, both locals and visitors. Once dismissed as superstitious and banned by the Vietnamese authorities, the fire dance is now performed publicly and is listed as intangible cultural heritage by the government.

 
 
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