The Ha Nhi have many important ceremonies each year including the Lunar New Year festival, forest worship, and crop blessing rite.
The rite “Khu Gia Gia” means “bumper crop” in the Ha Nhi language. It’s the biggest event for the Ha Nhi, in which they express their gratitude to the genies who have protected and blessed them with bumper crops.
Folklorist Lam Ba Nam said, “The Khu Gia Gia ceremony is an important part of the Ha Nhi’s history and culture. Like other ethnic minority groups living in the high mountains, they pray for productivity and fertility. Their ceremonies and festivals show their awareness of protecting the environment and maintaining a close community bond.”
The Khu Gia Gia festival is organized in the 6th lunar month. They prepare an offering from what they have produced. The village chiefs and heads of family clans meet to arrange the work and decide the contributions from the villagers to buy a buffalo.
The women are assigned to prepare an offering for the 1st worship day of the festival. The women begin making glutinous rice cakes in the early morning and the thuds of pounding rice flour echo throughout the village.
The men go to the forest to chop wood to make a swing and a see-saw for the festival.
On the second day they will perform a buffalo sacrifice to honor the genies. The shamans perform rituals before slaughtering the buffalo and sharing the beef to all the villagers.
Chu Tho Che, a patriarch of Y Ty commune, Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, shared, “The masters of ceremony share the meat to families so they can worship at home. If the village has 50 families, they prepare 50 equal portions. We cannot buy more beef. Families bring the beef home to worship.”
The third day is for festive activities. A Ha Nhi legend says the genies come down to earth to play see-saw and swinging. Every year the Ha Nhi make a new see-saw and swing first for worship, then for the villagers to play on.
Their games symbolize reproduction. The men and women dance together, sing duets, and play the Jew’s harp.
The Khu Gia Gia festival demonstrates the Ha Nhi’s gratitude to their ancestors and genies, who are believed to have a direct impact influence on their lives while enhancing community bonds and mutual support.