Pay Tai - Filial piety festival ofTay people in Luc Yen

  •  Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tay ethnic minority people have a saying that “Tet comes in the first lunar month but starts from the seventh month of the previous year”, which is to mention “Pay Tai” or “Pay chuong Tai”, a traditional practice during which sons-in-law visit and express gratitude towards their parents-in-law during Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) and the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.

Paying tribute to ancestors with offerings during Pay Tai festival of Tay people in Luc Yen.
Paying tribute to ancestors with offerings during Pay Tai festival of Tay people in Luc Yen.

I and my friend, Minh, are both from Red River Delta localities and reside in Yen Bai province. We have married to Tay women in Luc Yen district so we understand some about "Pay Tai”.

In the Tay people’s tradition, married women must take care of all affairs in the husband’s family, so that the second day of the first lunar month and the 15th day of the seventh lunar month every year are the occasions for them to visit their parents. This also gives the opportunities for the women and their husbands to show filial piety to the former’s parents.

On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month this year, Minh excitedly told me about his "Pay Tai” stories. A man that had experienced numerous jobs before staring a stable career as a seller of construction materials after getting married found that the practice is a "great fun”.

"My wife gave birth to our second child eight months ago. We have two children after three years! The 15th day of the seventh lunar month this year, I will take the whole family to Luc Yen andbuy a couple of ducks, dozens of "Banhgai” (thorn leaf cakes), square cakes and a bottle of good wine to present to my parents-in-law,” Minh said.

Concluding the conversation, we went to the market to buy the items that Minh had listed, which are indispensable things in Pay Tai as the Tay people have the saying "eat chicken meat in the first lunar month, duck meat in the seventh month.”

In the Tay spiritual life, duck isa sacred animal playing the role of the emissary between the earth and the heaven. According to the legend of Kham hai, the duck carried on its back a cock crossing the sea as an offering to the heaven on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month every year.

On this day, the Tay people also hold an "amnesty for the dead” ritual with "Banh gai”, which is called "Peng Tai (journey cake) in Tay language, aiming to commemorate the Tay soldiers.

After preparing all the gifts, I and my family will came to the house of my parents-in-law on the 14th day of the seventh lunar month, one day before the festival in line with the tradition. After preparing a meal to offer to the ancestors and pray for bumper crops, we will have the meal together to enjoy traditional dishes such as duck meat, bamboo shoot soup, banana cake and "banh gai”.

This is a fantastic experience that we enjoy each year.

Hoai Van

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