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Torch Festival of Yi Minority in Liangshan

Photo by China Greatway Tour

Posted: March 2, 2021
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The Yi Minority is a fire-worshiping ethnic group in western Sichuan, China. It has a population of more than 1.5 million, and they live in Liangshan which is more than 60,000 square kilometers.

Torch Festival is an important annual traditional sacrificial festival of the Yi Minority in Liangshan, which has been inherited for more than a thousand years. The Torch Festival is generally held on the 24th day of the lunar calendar every year. It lasts for three days. On the third night, people hold the torches and travel around the mountains in groups, then they gather to light a bonfire and the torch to drink, sing and dance.

Initially, it was a folk custom that the ancestors of Yi Minority used torches to drive away worms, evil spirits and pray for a good harvest. In the historical process of conquering and transforming nature, the custom has gradually evolved into current folk culture and sports festivals. The main activities include Bimo blessing (Bimo is the priest in the traditional religion of Yi Minority), beauty pageant, bullfighting, sheep fighting, horse racing, and wrestling. During the festival, all families drink alcohol, eat Tuotuo meat (like some big chunk of meat), and kill animals to sacrifice for their ancestors.

The ancient folk customs of the Torch Festival are the most complete, distinctive, and grandest to be maintained in Butuo County and Puge County in Liangshan Prefecture. They are the center of the Torch Festival in Liangshan and are known as the "Township of Torches."

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Photo by Liu Bin, China Greatway Tour