Since ancient times, a grand activity on worshiping the marvelous God of tree would be held by Gelao people’s fellow countryman on the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar in Haokou Miao and Gelao Autonomous Township.
Its origin: to show gratefulness to the blessing and protection of God
According to historical records, being regarded as barbarians, the small number of Gelao people’s ancestors were frequently run after and slaughtered innocently by Han people. Apart from that, they were also driven away by Miao and Tujia who lived near them. They resorted to hide away in deep forests where there were few people. Some of them climbed up high trees to hide away, thus making them not be discovered and pick fresh wild fruits to survive for a short period. Because of that, Gelao people would never forget what trees had done for them. They regarded trees as their blessing God forever.
Therefore, Gelao people began to hold a grand activity on worshiping the marvelous God of tree on the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar every year. This kind of custom has been passed on from generation to generation till today.
Worship the marvelous God of tree today means praying for blessing
Gelao people who live in Haokou Township preserve the custom of worshiping the marvelous God of tree. For hundreds of years, after inviting a shaman to read the sky and observe the conditions of the ground, they choose a thick, strong and tall tree growing on the sunny slope near their settlement as the God of tree to worship every year.
No matter rain or shine on the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Gelao people will hold a grand ritual of worship under the guidance of the senior of the clansman.
Carrying with red candles, incense sticks, hell bank notes, firecrackers(for the sake of preventing forest fire, setting off firecrackers is not allowed now), specially-prepared meat, roasted meat, home-made red bayberry wine and red ribbon showing auspiciousness, Gelao people assemble at the worshiping stage in front of the tree, lay the offerings in advance. All things prepared, they will walk around the tree in a circle. Then, they will get down on their knees, listening to the story about how much they should owe to the marvelous God of the tree told by the head of the clan.
After that, Getlao people begin to hang the red ribbon in the tree, which is called “guahong” in Chinese. They will also pray for a year of abundance.
Next, under the leadership of the senior, people will feed the tree with rich and delicious food. You may feel surprised about how to feed the tree. It is cutting a wound on the tree that can be filled with red bayberry wine. While feeding, Gelao people will say something good to the tree, expecting it can continue to protect them forever.
When the ritual is over, Gelao people would sit together on the floor, eat up all that they carry here with excitement.
Anyone who happen to be there on that day will be invited to worship the tree together with Gelao people. Generally speaking, the guests will respect local customs and go with Gelao people carrying red ribbon. Meanwhile, they will also pray for good fortune.
Until today, Gelao people in Haokou still worship the tree and pray for blessing.
The custom of worshiping tree of Gelao people became one of the main focus of attention of Faraway Home of CCTV4 in 2013, thus making it to be well-known to everyone from home and abroad.