Interesting Nao Cong Festival in Sapa

Interesting Nao Cong Festival in Sapa

Travel Guide to Nao Cong Festival

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Jan 09, 2020

With a high level of ethnic diversity, Sapa has many cultural festivals held throughout the year. Even if you visit the town in the summer, you still have a chance to enjoy interesting festivals. Located just around 8 kilometers from Sapa, it is Ta Van village where the Giay people celebrate Nao Cong Festival (Lễ hội Nào Cống) in the sixth month of the lunar calendar. This tradition has been well maintained by ethnic groups after a long time.

General Info about Nao Cong Festival in Sapa

When is Nao Cong Festival Taken Place?

It is held annually on the Dragon day in June of the lunar calendar.

Where is the Nao Cong Festival Taken Place?

It takes place in a three-area shrine of Ta Van Village (bản Tả Van), in front of the hanging bridge to the village.

Why is Nao Cong Festival Held?

Nao Cong Festival was first organized in the 1950s and it has become a traditional festival of 3 ethnic minority groups including H’Mong, Dao, and Giay people who live in Muong Hoa Valley. In this festival, they pray to God for bumper harvests, peaceful life, rain, and wind,… 

Highlights of Nao Cong in Sapa

Highlights of Nao Cong Festival

1. Preparation

The preparation for Nao Cong festival lasts for a few months before June. The authorities and local people try their best to prepare it carefully. The villagers will donate their money to buy buffaloes, pigs, and poultries for offerings ritual. The Giay people especially take responsibility for preparing gold incense, bowls, and plates,…

2. During Nao Cong Festival

On the days that Nao Cong festival takes place, each family will assign a representative to take part in the festival, regardless of male or female, old or young. They will gather in the shrine and celebrate the festival and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The shrine, or so-called “Chế đáng” by H’Mong people, has three rooms. Local people worship the mountain god and the King of Ocean (the Giay call them “Síp po” and “Sía ta”, the H’Mong call them “Lung Vang” and “Thu Ti”) in the left room. The middle room is the altars of two local officials who greatly contributed for constructing Muong Hoa Valley and protecting local people in the past. And they place the dames of these two officials in the right room. 

Nao Cong festival is divided into 3 main parts:

  • Gods worshipping ritual
  • Announcement of general regulations
  • The festival banquet.

A long time ago, a shaman of the Tay ethnic minority in Muong Bo will lead the ritual. However, since the 1940s, it changed to an oracle of the Giay in Ta Van village. The ritual leader wearing a tunic and baggy trousers, not wearing scarf or hat, will solemnly read out the divine words, inviting the Gods to join the rites and praying for blessings.

Then, there will be a speech from Muong Hoa officials about general convention after the offering ritual. It focuses on 4 main issues:

  • Security of villages: villagers mustn’t steal from other people. They will take special measures to prevent stealing.
  • Forest protection: H’Mong, Giay, and Dao people should be hard-working. They are not allowed to cut bamboo sprouts or firewood in forbidden areas and in the shared forest .
  • Cattle shepherding: Villagers can graze cattles from 15th October in the previous year to the Dragon day of January in the lunar calendar. Except for this period, cattle shepherding is banned to avoid crop damage.
  • Social behavior: Every convention mentions that everyone should be helpful and supportive, they should help other people, especially those in a family bereavement. It also strongly protests illicit love. 

At the end of the speech, officials of the valley often emphasize that everyone should abide by this convention. The representatives should convey this information to everyone in the family. 

After that, they will start the banquet together. A special thing is that all of the food in the festival is prepared by villagers in H’Mong, Giay, and Dao ethnic community groups. Hundreds of villagers will enjoy the food in the yard outside of the shrine while the officials, heads of villages, and shaman will have the meal inside the shrine. For those who don’t attend the festival, their neighbors will bring the food home for them.

Nao Cong Festival plays a crucial role in the spiritual and cultural life of ethnic minority community. On this occasion, they have a chance to show their gratefulness to the gods, reinforce the general conventions among villages, as well as tighten the relationship of villagers. 

How to Get to Ta Van Village?

Visitors who want to join the festival can go to Ta Van village in 2 ways: 

  • Motorbike / Taxi: You can rent a taxi or motorbike for yourself from Sapa town. It costs more than $9.
  • Trekking: If you are an adventurous person, you can choose to take about a 5 mile hike to the village.

Attending Nao Cong festival, you surely get more understanding about unique characteristics of different ethnic minority groups. Don’t hesitate to join the festival this June. If you need further information about tours in Sapa, please feel free to contact us.


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