by – Bikash Kali Das (Dr. Das)
The “San Yue Jie” festival of the Bai Nationality in Dali is a celebration of their rich cultural heritage and history. As the largest fair in China, this festival has played a significant role in promoting the economic development of the Bai people. Over time, the festival has evolved from a religious activity into an important economic event that has become a model for protecting and promoting traditional minority culture.
The origins of the “San Yue Jie” festival are rooted in ancient legends and stories passed down from generation to generation. One story tells of how Guan-yin came to Zhonghe Hill of Dali and seized Luosha, a demon that had been terrorizing the local people. To express their appreciation, the people gathered on March 15 every year to sacrifice to Guan-yin. This story highlights the close relationship between religion and the origins of the festival.
Another legend tells the story of a young fisherman who married the Third Princess of Dragon King. Inspired by the moon festival held by Chang’E, the Princess and her husband decided to hold their own festival at the foot of Diancang Hill, where the locals could buy anything they liked. This story reflects the festival’s economic origins, as it began as a local exchange fair where the people traded goods like horses, drugs, tea, cotton, wood, and metals.
Over time, the “San Yue Jie” festival has become an important material exchange center in Southwest China, attracting people from more than 20 provinces, cities, and autonomous regions, as well as foreign visitors. The festival has also been recognized as a national festival for the Bai people, playing an important role in protecting their traditional culture and promoting regional development.
The festival’s evolution from a religious activity to an important economic event has been a key factor in its success. By combining cultural exchange and economic development, the festival has rejuvenated the ancient “San Yue Jie” and stimulated economic growth while also strengthening national unity, increasing trade, and enhancing foreign relations. It has become an important center for the Southwest Silk Road, a testament to the festival’s historical significance.
In conclusion, the “San Yue Jie” festival of the Bai Nationality in Dali is a fascinating example of how traditional festivals can evolve over time to become important economic events. The festival’s origins in religion and legends have given way to a modern celebration that celebrates and promotes the Bai people’s unique cultural heritage. As a model for protecting and promoting traditional minority culture, the “San Yue Jie” festival is an inspiration to us all.