Folk performance at the annual She Huo Festival in Shanxi Province in February 2012.
In addition to worshipping the gods of land and fire, local people regard the festival as an opportunity to force out evils and illnesses, and pray for happiness.
The expense of holding the activities is usually paid by the art troupes, which are supported by the village administrations. The specific figure is decided by the financial condition of separate villages. I was astonished to hear that this figure can be as much as 300,000 yuan ($47,640). This reveals the popularity of the She Huo Festival among local people.
Maybe because the traffic is not convenient and the villagers have few contacts with the outside world, the local folk arts are well kept. This has made me a little worried. In the modern society with advanced transportation and networks, can the festival be handed down complete and intact?
Due to the advancement of urbanization, many folk activities and arts have disappeared in cities. Luckily, they are well kept in villages. But now that the villages will also start industrial development, will these folk activities and arts have the same ending as they did in cities?
A feasible solution is to make it the government's responsibility to hold large-scale activities such as the She Huo Festival celebration. In the meantime, a strong sense of protecting traditions is also required for the public. Seeing the happy faces of the performers and audiences around the bonfire during the festival in Zuoquan, I was deeply touched. Anyone who gets near the bonfire can definitely feel that the smiling faces are the strongest force in protecting the local traditions.