Singing Carnival on the Third day of the Third Lunar Month, popularly called Sanyuesan in Chinese, is the traditional festival for the Zhuang nationality.
Zhuang is China’s largest minority group. The majority of them live in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan province, and the rest are scattered in Guangdong, Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces. The Zhuang language is a language branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family.
As the ethnic groups is particularly good at singing, the Zhuangs, women and men alike, all begin to learn singing at the age of four or five. They sing of love, of play, of work, of sadness, of happiness, of celebration and of mourning. They sing to urge guests to drink at parties and to urge the gods to send rain for the crops. The Zhuangs even challenge each other’s wit with antiphonal songs. The best known singers like Liu Sanjie, and Huang Sandi in the Zhuang’s history are crowned the “Queen of Singers” and “King of Singers”.
Except for the Singing Carnival, the Zhuangs would also meet at Spring Festival, Mid-Autumn or one month later after the birth of a child. Even temporary singing meet will be staged when they are on the way to the trading market.
There are songs sung at different occasions. During the “singing meet in the day”, young people will gather outdoors in the vast fields singing in a move to seek for their lovers. During the “night singing meet”, the songs are usually about work, life or history knowledge. The songs sung at different occasions can never be confused, especially at the time of marriage ceremony, worship, and funeral.
On the third day of the third lunar month, the Zhuangs around the area stretching up to hundreds of li (two li amount to one kilometer) would all dress up to meet to sing. Usually, lads and lasses will stand opposite and lasses will probe lads’ character and talent through singing. Men would bring gifts to the women they like, and women would throw embroidered balls tied with gifts back to the man whom they fall in love with.
At some singing meets, people will bring colored eggs. With an egg in had, young man will try to touch the egg grabbed in the hand of the woman he has a crush on. The woman, if likes the man, will agree for the man to knock on her egg. If not, she would just grab the egg tight, which means: man, no chance for you.
Sometimes, singing competition will be held between villages. For instance, village A will send a silk ball to village B and challenge it to a folk song competition. According to rules, village B can only return the ball when it wins the game. If village B loses in the competition, the embroidered silk ball will just stay. There will competitions in the following years until village B wins. It sounds very interesting, isn’t it?