The
Chinese
Dragon
Festival


More properly
the Chinese Ceremonial Lion Festival will travel through the streets of Nong Khai at the end of October.

This is a typically Chinese festival when teams of lions, ghosts with huge white faces, dragons and some extraordinarily noisy drummers go to each and every Chinese (or Vietnamese) business to bring good luck for the coming year. The town is filled with a machine gun cacophony of noise as thousands of crackers are set off to herald good fortune and to ward off evil spirits.

Pictured left is one of the dragons which is supported by more than thirty people as it dances, and bobs its way around the town.

M
any different themes of Chinese culture are reflected ... mandarins and their courtly wives, acrobats and dancing girls, and Chinese deities and (see below) Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy, with her attendants sitting on white lotus flowers...

It is a time when the normally more secluded Chinese Temple, Sala Jao Phu Ya, becomes the most prominent temple in Nong Khai, with much burning of ghost money and prayers for deceased ancestors, and when the usually quiet Chinese school hosts a night time display of acrobatics and a wonderful market and Chinese Opera to raise money for the coming year.

At night in the Chinese School, the dragons dance to form high human towers (see left). Another fascinating spectacle is the contest to climb a high slippery bamboo pole (see right). Able bodied lads ascend as fast as monkeys, while accomplices stand steadying the pole. They perform acrobatics with fireworks to reach a trophy at the top.

The festival lasts for ten days and the Chinese Opera is very much worth seeing on one of those evenings, even just to say that you have witnessed it... the only way I can think of describing the noise is the crashing together of dustbin lids while cats are being strangled!

The end of the festival is marked by an evening parade through the town.