A Month In China Part 6: The Home God Festival


We were awoken from our slumber by the odd sound of "wooooo" off in the distance. We all lay tucked in our sleeping bags for a while before our guide came and got us to start the day. The trek that we were on was not one of their normal treks because today was a special day. Today was the Home God Festival where the nomads celebrate the time when their ancestors decided to stop fighting with each other and lay down their arms. We trudged to the top of the ridge and took in the events at the top. Basically there were four "stations," for lack of a better term, each a part of the ritual and each accompanied by the throwing of prayer papers in the air and the "wooooooo"ing.

The first station was the symbolic laying down of arms where the people (only men, the whole festival is male-centric, we didn't see a single woman participating) brought huge wooden spears to add to the pile from the years before. The spears were then wrapped in homespun yak wool.

The next station involved the burning of a sacrifice.

Next came the most entertaining station. At this point the people circled a small stack of spears covered in prayer flags and really let their inner "woooooo" out. By the way, I should mention that most people did this on foot, but there were a handful of people on horseback mixed in as well as the occasional person on motorcycle. Nobody got injured as far as I could tell but I definitely wouldn't call the whole process "safe."