China’s Dong people normally live in Guizhou, Hunan, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Composed of 2,514,000 people, the Dong Minority owns a diversified and dynamic culture. Visitors to the region could experience the fun of discovering their old way of living and old traditions.
UNESCO has placed 18 Dong villages on the World Heritage site list. Of particular interest are the Fengyu (wind and rain) Bridge, or covered bridges, and drum towers. Each of these structures is a typical reflective of traditional life in the Dong village.
The Dong people keep many old and traditional customs even in the modern time. These customs are based on their ancestor’s rituals and beliefs. For example, the Dong are used to remove grass or other plants from the ground, bunch them to ties and place them in a certain place as a mark. The mark can be left in a prominent location or a location that has significant meaning. For example, a spray of grass placed near a broken board on a bridge would serve as a warning. To the Dong, the multi-mark could represent love, danger, and even disdain.
The Dong celebrate a variety of festivals throughout the year. Several festivals coincide with traditional Han festivals. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and Tomb Sweeping Festival are celebrated by both the Han and the Dong. Dong festivals include Dong New Year, the New Harvest Eating Festival, the Bullfight Festival, and the Sisters’ Festival.
Dong New Year falls in the eleventh lunar month, from the first day to the eleventh day. This festival marks the end of the autumn harvest, and villagers could relax and enjoy the end of a busy season. Preparations for the festival start days before the day. Houses are cleaned. Villagers buy new outfits, and prepare a big diner. Every family cooks the most characteristic Dong cold dish - tofu and special hand-made pickles.
The Sister’s Festival is celebrated to honor the Dong women. When it comes to the eighth of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, married Dong women will go back to their parents’ home. They cook and celebrate the day together. After the day, they will take a black glutinous rice cake to their husbands as a sign of respect.