Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The loconym Xinping has been added to this group to distinguish them from other Lalu and Laluo groups in southern China. The various Lalu peoples, although all officially counted as part of the Yi nationality, have little in common with each other except their names. Each group possesses distinct customs and languages. Jamin Pelkey has said about this group, "The Lalu have a strong sense of identity, and do not consider themselves to be part of the Yi nationality. For that matter, other peoples in Lalu regions do not consider the Lalu to be Yi either."
The Xinping Lalu are recognized as among the earliest inhabitants of the Ailao Mountains. For centuries they have been influenced by Han, Hani, and Hongjin Tai cultures more than by the Yi.
The Xinping Lalu greatly enjoy music. They love to get together and sing old traditional songs and play folk instruments. During the second lunar month of each year, on the day of the ox, the Xinping Lalu hold a singing competition. The victorious young man and girl are considered the most eligible marriage partners by the community. They will be greatly sought after by prospective suitors from that time on.
For generations the Lalu have been polytheists who worship many gods, ghosts, demons and disembodied spirits. They believe that when people die they will become either good or bad spirits, depending on their character while living.
There is a church among the Hongjin Tai people in the Mosha District of Xinping County. This church uses the Tai language to worship, and some of the believers who are bilingual in Chinese are known to have taken the gospel to their Xinping Lalu neighbors. As a result, there are about 150 Christians among the Lalu in Xinping today, meeting in two churches. Kado and Biyo believers in Mojiang and Yuanjiang may have impacted the small number of Lalu living there. In 1998 gospel recordings in Xiaping Lalu language were produced for the first time.