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Get Muddy to Get Lucky in a Traditional Chinese Festival

  • 07
  • 05
  • 2016

Take a moment to remember your childhood memories and all the times you wanted to get down and dirty, but didn’t have your parents’ permission to do so.

Now imagine them saying that once a year you had permission to get as dirty and muddy as one could humanly get.


Your eyes would fill up with joy!

This is exactly what happens in southwest China, specifically in Cangyuan, Yunnan province, home of the Wa ethnic group.

The Wa are an autonomous minority group of China, present in the Cangyuan County for more than 3,000 years, creating a very strong and hardworking culture.

Every May 1st, the Wa people celebrate the start of the Monihei Carnival, a fun, muddy tradition believed to bring good fortune to every participant.

Being covered in mud from head to toe is a must as it is believed the more mud you have on, the more fortune and health will be bestowed on you.


Covering other people with mud would also grant a wish. Depending on who they were, the wish could be different. It could be beauty for a woman or a long healthy life for an elder.

Although smearing watery mud wasn’t the starting point of this tradition, the festival takes its meaning from an old custom where people smeared pot ash, ox blood and mud to other people’s faces in an effort to frighten evil spirits and seek peace.

It has become so popular that even tourists join the fun and share the beliefs. This highly benefits the county as it has brought in nearly 100 million in income thanks to the tourism industry.


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