Every year, in the second lunar month, the weather starts to be shiny and warm after spring rains; ban flowers bloom white all over South West mountainous region, promising over-productive crops on fields and gardens. Ban flower festival opens when rice grows under spring rains, being lightly green on wet rice fields.
Ban flower festival (also known as Sen ban or Sen muong festival) is hold to pray for rain, happiness for villages of the Thai ethnic group. In the Thai’s concept, ban flower symbolizes not only love but also piousness, thankfulness.
From the early morning of the festival day, the sounds of drums, gongs clang wide open the mountainous region. The kitchens of house on stilts show the red flickering fire: people steam sticky rice, boil chicken, slice bamboo shoot; some families operate pigs for the banquet. There are many big and small jars of pipe wine (rượu cần) carried out for welcome guests. Girls and boys wearing beautiful clothes call each other to come to the forests where there are many ban flowers blooming. They select the most beautiful flower branches to give to their lovers and parents.
While Sen ban festival (organized once every two years) is only taken place in the scope of village, aiming to “pray for God’s support” and to worship for “washing leaves, driving God of insects away”, where there are few games, Sen muong festival (appearing once every three years) is hold in a large scope, attracting many talent people all over the village to join.
Sen muong festival lasts three days. The ceremony part is jubilant, sacred, and sincerely reverent with greeting crowd and sky-land, natural forces worshipping rituals. The festival part covers the majority of total time with hoa mai (hỏa mai) gun shooting, longbow, con (còn) throwing, and cock fighting… contests. Especially, in the jubilant sounds of drums and gongs, the circle of people spreading dancing almost happens continuously, seem not to stop.
For girls and boys in the village, the last festival night is most joyful. In the charming scenery of mountainous region, the charm-exchange (giao duyên) singing contest and the sounds of pan-pipe (khèn), flute last until midnight. From the festival, many love stories are formed and many couples get married. Due to this, the last night is also the most memorable one.