Sisters’ Rice Festival, also known as Sisters’ Meal Festival, is a celebration of love and of spring. It falls on the 15th day of March in the lunar calendar. It is the local version of Valentine’s Day. Sisters’ Rice Festival is observed by the Miao ethnic groups in southwest Guizhou.
Folk Tale & Traditions
The folk tale about the origin of the Sisters’ Rice Festival is a sweet one. A very long time ago, there were some beautiful and clever Miao girls in the village but none of them could find their other half when they reached the age for marriage. They found that it was due to the remoteness of their village. So they decided to hold a large gathering to attract young men from afar.
At the time of the gathering, the girls all dressed up in their most beautiful ethnic costumes and delicate silver accessories to attract the young men.
The ethnic costumes of the Miao people are very beautiful and splendid with delicate embroidery. In fact, many Miao women begin to prepare the traditional embroidered festival costumes soon after their daughters are born. When the daughter reaches the age of 16, their mothers will dress them up and take them to participate in the Sisters’ Rice Festival.
Through the activities at the gathering, many girls and boys found their loved ones. Therefore, the gathering gradually became the Sisters’ Rice Festival.
A few days before the Festival, the Miao girls were busy preparing sisters’ rice - a kind of glutinous rice. They collect special flowers and leaves to make natural dye with which they use to color the glutinous rice.
When the young men arrive to the festival, they sing love songs to the girls that they like, and the Miao girls will respond to their songs and give them a cup of rice wine and sisters’ rice. The sisters’ rice is usually wrapped in a handkerchief, and what accompanies the sisters’ rice has different meanings.
If it is presented to the boy with a pair of chopsticks, it means that the girl also like the young man. If it goes with only one chopstick, or a red chili pepper, then it is a sign of refusal. If the rice goes with pine needles, then the girl is giving hints to the young man that he should present silk and threads and the girl will wait for him.
Besides singing, dancing, they hosted many interesting activities such as horse racing, lusheng (a reed-pipe wind instrument) performances, and bullfighting.