Thai ethnic minority believes that people living on earth are influenced by heaven and gods. The heaven sends a representative called Then to earth to communicate with people and bring happiness, good health, favorable weather, and bumper crops. Then also allows people to express their wishes and desires to the gods. 

In early spring, the White Thai in Phong Tho district, Lai Chau province, organize a Festival to honor Then and invite him to join festive activities.    

This year’s Then Festival took place on April 8-10. It began with worship rituals and incense offering at the Then house and continued with a festival which featured a Thai traditional costume performance and ethnic sports competitions such as stick pushing, tug of war, crossbow shooting, and Con throwing.

Other activities included a Xoe dance night, a Thai culinary contest, a water spraying festival at Nam Lum spring, and a hair washing festival. 

The main worship ritual took place at the Then house. Women prayed for good luck, health, prosperity, favorable weather, peace, and happiness. 

Vang Thi Thao of Cang hamlet shared, “I’m very happy to join the Hair Washing Festival. At the New Year celebration, we perform a hair washing ritual at home. This year I can join with other girls to wash hair in the spring. It’s fantastic to join with many people to promote the Then Kin Pang Festival.”

People of Thai, Mong, Dao, and other ethnic groups in Phong Tho district went to the festival to the cheerful sound of drums and gongs. Coming from mountain lanes in every direction, beautifully dressed people poured into the Then Kin Pang festival in Khong Lao commune. 

Visitors were excited to experience the unique culture and friendliness of ethnic people.

Tran Thanh Son, a tourist from Thai Binh province noted, “I’m very happy to participate in the festival to learn more about cultural characteristics of the White Thai and specialties of Phong Tho district. There are a lot of potential to attract tourists.” 

Vuong The Man, Chairman of Phong Tho district’s People’s Committee, said, “We’ll focus resources and arouse potentials to preserve and promote cultural identities of ethnic groups. Phong Tho district is a multi-culture region. We will review artisans and have incentive policies for them to inspire young people and pass on their knowledge to the next generations.”

Lai Chau province has developed the Then Kin Pang Festival into a popular cultural event.