The Corn Festival is a traditional celebration of the Cong people in Muong Te district, Lai Chau province. After the corn harvest in the 6th lunar month, the Cong gather to celebrate the harvest, thank genies and ancestors for blessing them, and pray for another favourable year.
Cong women perform in Corn Festival
Like other groups who depend on agriculture, the Cong time their New Year celebration to the agricultural calendar. As corn is their main crop, they prepare many corn dishes for the celebration.
Chu Thi Lai of Nam Khao commune said family members prepare offerings for the ancestors to inform them what has been done during the year and to thank them for good health and a good crop.
“Family members collect bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and vegetables from the forest, catch crabs, and prepare corn dishes. Each person takes charge of one task,” Lai said.
The size of the offering depends on a family’s financial condition. Essential dishes are corn cakes, steamed corn with glutinous rice, and boiled corn.
Corn cakes are made of corn powder and honey, wrapped in leaves, and well steamed. Corn cakes and steamed corn-rice spread an aroma of young corn and glutinous rice.
Other dishes are made of pork, chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables. The offering must include 12 crabs, representing the 12 months.
Seng Van Ngan of Muong Te district said, “The offering must have crabs. Our ancestors believe that the crab is a crop protector. We follow our tradition to do so.”
A worship of forest ghosts of the Cong in Lai Chau province
On the first day of the Corn Festival, people go together through the forest to the nearest spring.
On the way they strew tobacco to make the ghosts of the forest happy. They believe that happy forest ghosts will not harm them.
The Corn Festival invites tourists to experience the local culture and customs and enjoy the different taste of Cong food.