February 24, 2024

In Thailand, Akha is the tribal community who live in the hills of Chiang Rai, the Northern Province. The Swing ceremony of Akha tribal community is held between mid-August and September. This ritual takes place just two months before corn and rice are ready for harvesting. Celebrating the Swing Festival is a way of saying thanks and expressing respect for food. The festival is celebrated for four days and night by dancing, singing, feasting and enjoyment.

The Akha people believe in worshipping their ancestors, as they believe after the death of an elder, they become their guardian and look after their welfare. They also think that the abundance crops are blessings of their ancestors.

This annual Swing ceremony also acts as a transition from adolescence to adulthood. During this ceremony Akha girls are dressed as a full grown adult with ornamental head dress which is designed to reflect different stages of a woman’s life.

On the first day of the festival all family members gather at 11 in the morning to prepare for their ritual offerings. They offer one red and one black chicken along with wine, ginger, tealeaves and other items to their ancestors at noon. Then through out the night they dance and sing.

The second day is the most important of all days. It involves the whole community and village priest, and the tribal elders lead the ceremony. They dismantle the old swing erected the previous year and put up a new swing in that place.

On the third day, offerings are made at the dawn and on the final day; the village priest declares the end of the ceremony which is held again the following year.