The Legend of Torch Festival
Torch Festival is an important and long-standing traditional festival of Yi, Bai, Naxi, Jino and Lahu nationalities. It's famed home and abroad as a festival of profound folk cultural connotation, and is called an "Eastern Carnival". The Torch Festival is celebrated on a different day by different nationalities, which is usually on the 24th of the sixth lunar month of each year featuring the major activities of bullfight, sheep-fight, cockfight, horse race, wrestling, singing and dancing performance and beauty contest. What's more, different place features varied versions of the legend of the Torch Festival, which is also a huge treasure in our folk custom.
First of all, the formation of festival-related customs and legends has something to do with the original worship of Yi branch nationalities of the same ethnic origin, or a more direct relationship with the worship in fire, that is, to pray for a good new year in front of the sacred fire, and to divine farm work with fire color and farming results of a year with the brightness of the fire.
Secondly, there are many versions of the Torch Festival legend, which are largely identical despite of different origins. With strong sense of humanism, those varied versions end unexceptionally with the victory of human beings and the failure of gods. This varies greatly from the narrative mode in fables, in which gods are forever the unbeatable characters stronger than human beings.
Thirdly, the penetration of traditional moral ideas into legends of the Torch Festival custom afterwards has been reflected in the integration of legends about female characters and those about the festival, so as to put stress on chastity and virtue.
Anyway, from the formation and evolvement of legends about the Torch Festival we could find different levels of historical accumulation, which is synchronous with the long-term development of the festival in southwestern nationalities. Legend about the festival has been constantly evolved as it was passed down from generation to generation, which has even influenced the festival custom in some regions, while adding the derivative meaning of "commemorative festival" to the original and "sacrificial" Torch Festival.