A walk-through Dai people cultural heritage



I saw a group of women playing musical instruments (Shan traditional drum, gong and cymbal) softly to welcome the visitors from afar before our vehicle stopped.
They sprinkled scented water in a silver bowl using sprigs of Thabyay (Jambul) to the visitors while playing instruments and singing at the entrance of the village. This fascinating cultural tradition is familiar to me as a Myanmar citizen and I felt ecstatic about this scene.
The traditional costume of those women is not different from that of Shan people. They are none other than Dai people living in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Yunnan Province, China.
It is about a 20-minute drive to visit the ancient village called “Man Yuan” where Dai people live. The organic farms of dragon fruit, pomelo and a variety of fruits are seen along the road.
Dai people living in Man Yuan village are preserving cultural heritage, traditions and customs from generations to generations.  The different types of slit houses on the roadside are giving an awesome vibe.
The uphill road to the temple with majestic buildings from a well where a dragon dwelled according to a myth is similar to the roads en route to pagodas that sit atop the mountains across Myanmar.
Some residents perform rituals to avert misfortune by supporting branches of banyan trees with pillars, which can also be significantly seen in Myanmar. The locals believed that water from that dragon well can wash away bad luck.
There are 81 households with 439 residents in Man Yuan village. They still maintain traditions and culture by avoiding the big influence of technology.
The Dai people are among the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China, with over a million population in southern Yunnan province.
They have been preserving rich traditional heritage of their own. Dai is closely associated with Laos and Thai people in the form of historical and geographical aspects.
There are over 100-year-old mango trees and the pavilions where alms-giving ceremonies are held in the village. The visitors can enjoy the taste of a variety of fruits and vegetables such as corn, pineapple, jackfruit, mangoes and drinks. The folks playing flutes and singing folk songs can bring joy and full excitement to the visitors.
I was so amazed when the palm leaf inscription of Buddhist literature was demonstrated. The locals are engaged in traditional businesses such as papermaking, pottery business, bamboo hat and broom making.
Dai people’s traditions and customs are related to Shan people. They also celebrate the water-splashing festival from 13 to 16 April every year to mark the Buddha’s birthday. They went to mountains to pick up wild flowers to make flower pagoda and sprinkled scented water over Buddha statues to represent purification and good fortune. The authorities hold events including paying homage to the elders, drum contest, singing contest, traditional dance competition, weaving contest, paper streamer contest and fruit decoration contest. What a surprising tradition is that the monks also participate in the water splashing Festival.
We stopped in Xishuangbanna Autonomous Prefecture which was built on the side of the Lancang River on our return trip from Man Yuan village.
I felt delighted with the hospitality at a restaurant featuring traditional and aesthetic themes. A group of people wearing traditional costumes which are similar to Shan attires were seen welcoming the guests by playing Shan drum, gongs and cymbals softly. The traditional food is to Myanmar people’s taste. Even fish-paste with assorted vegetables is included in a meal. Customers can dig in popular and best dishes such as pineapple rice, mashed potato with chives, butter and pepper.
The folks performing traditional dances in Xishuangbanna are the unforgettable moments of life.
Boat tour along the Lancang River is a fun experience. And it was time to say goodbye to the Lancang River, Xishuangbanna and Man Yuan village.
The sun goes down behind the mountain. Yet, the colorful lights of high-rise buildings and hotels illuminate night in Xishuangbanna.

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