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Khau Vai Love Market

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The crowded Khau Vai love market attracts many people from the villages

Have you ever heard about Khau Vai love market in Ha Giang? It is a unique market, bringing many cultural identities and customs of the upland ethnic minorities. This is not just a normal market but a ‘love market’. Let’s travel to Ha Giang to explore this unique market.

|Read our Ha Giang Travel Guide if you are planing a there

Khau Vai Love Market

In the spring, when the weather began to warm and the trees sproute, like all new beginnings for a new year, there is a unique ‘love market’ that are attracs many lowlanders to visit here. It is Khau Vai love market, a traditional market night of the Mong people, from nearly a hundred years ago. The market is held annually on the 27th day of the March. 

The boys and girls dance in Khau Vai love market
The boys and girls dance in Khau Vai love market

In Tay Nung language, Khau Vai love market is also known as ‘deo gai’, also called Phong Luu market. The market is located in Khau Vai commune, Meo Vac district, Ha Giang, about 200m from the city.

Come to the market, you can come in advance from the afternoon of the 26th day of the lunar calendar. At that time, there are many boys and girls with traditional costumes, flamboyant dresses, laughing and talking on all over the streets and streams to come here to participate in the market. This is a market that praises the pure love of the couple, influential to the community. Therefore, today there are many lowland young people and tourists from all over to come here to participate in this unique market in Ha Giang.

On this day, boys and girls can meet another boy or girl
On this day, boys and girls can meet another boy or girl

Origin of Khau Vai market

Few people know the story behind the Khau Vai love market. The love market stems from the legend of a boy named Ba and a girl named Ut. In Khau Vai land, only Nung and Giay people live. They live separately in each village and everything begins when a Nung guy falls in love with a Giay girl in the next village.

The boy named Ba was a Nung ethnic person, living in Khau Vai, a handsome boy, good at singing and fluting but poor. The beautiful girl named Ut was the daughter of a Giay patriarch. They loved each other but Ut’s family disagreed, vehemently opposing this love because the boy was poor and not of the same ethnic group, not with the same ghosts, and not with customs and habits. It was thought that the Nung boys could not marry the Giay girls. They were not allowed to become couples. 

The crowded Khau Vai love market attracts many people from the villages
The crowded Khau Vai love market attracts many people from the villages

They decided to flee to Khau Vai mountain cave to live and vow to live together. There was a conflict between the two families. The family of the girl brought detonators, cross-bows to the boy’s house, cursing the boy violating the law to take the girl to the forest. The boy’s family also brought sticks, guns, knives to curse at the girl’s family.

Seeing the scene of the two families like that, also because of loving father and mother, loving people of the two villages suddenly becoming hateful only because of their love, they broke up to return to the village, vowed in the next life, they will become couples. The day they broke up was March 27, the local people appreciated that love so they took the day they broke up as the market day.

When the couple broke up, they cut blood and vowed: Although they could not get married, each year, every March 27, they went to Khau Vai to sing to each other, telling each other the secret things during a year they were apart. They confided and sang throughout the night to the next night, and then, they returned to their daily life.

The last day of their life, they come together again. They came to the forest tree and sat by the stone, huged each other tightly and left the world together to go to the afterlife. They left the world on March 27 of the lunar calendar. Therefore, the villagers built a shrine to commemorate a deep love for the couple. Since then, Khau Vai love market was also available. 

Khau Vai Love Market
Khau Vai Love Market

The special activities of Khau Vai love market

Expected throughout the year, the love market festival also comes to close. From all the bumpy roads, the atmosphere of the festival began bustling in the early days. From the afternoon of March 26th of the lunar calendar, people began to pour down into the “love market”.

At night, you will see Khau Vai Love Market becoming poetic by the singing, the flute of the Mong people calling their partners tormentingly. The boys talk and wait for their partners with the bowls of corn wine; the girls with colorful flower skirts are shy.

Interestingly, many couples go together to Khau Vai Love Market. When going to the market, the wife finds her friend, and the husband does, too. They are not jealous but respect each other, respect the friends of their partner. They treat it as a share with their partner’s spiritual life. But those “outside husband and wife” moments are only available and allowed to take place on the day of March 27th. After this day, their “heart” must be closed and they are only faithful to a person who is their partner.

All festivals consist of two parts: one is the ceremony and the other is the festival. The Khau Vai love market is the same. The ceremony is the ritual of offering incense at Ong temple and Ba temple. The festival consists of traditional folk culture and arts exchanges; folk games such as carrying water by bamboo pipes, climbing columns, throwing “còn” and singing for emotional exchange, blindfolding, throwing Pao,  throwing “yến” …, experiencing horse riding “Going back to the ex-lover in the way of love”, …

Coming to the Ha Giang market, you will feel a different culture, a unique market that is only available in Khau Vai. Ha Giang is an interesting experience to conquer the pass roads, enjoy the specialties of this land, understand more about the unique regional culture and contribute to your diary in the long way ahead.

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