The Dai are closely related to the Thai ethnic group of Thailand and are one of the official 55 minorities of China. They live in the Southwestern part of Yunnan province next to the Laos/Myanmar/Vietnam border. They can also be found within those neighboring countries.
The Dai are well known for the Water Splashing Festival (Songkran). The splashing of water symbolizing the cleansing of sin from the previous year and a fresh start to the new year. This is an excellent place to begin sharing the gospel and compare that water to Jesus as the river of life and as they one who causes “water springs within of eternal life” (John 4: 13-14).
The Dai groups are some of the few ethnic groups in China groups that are Theravada (Southern Asian Buddhist) in China. Some subgroups practice Animism only. In general, they practice Southern Asian Buddhism mixed with polytheism and ancestor worship as a part of their religion. Sacrifices may be given to spirits, gods, or ancestors. Though they are similar to the majority Thai people group of Thailand, even there they are considered a distinct group.
They are known by many names and are divided into many sub groups. But the total population of all Dai groups is around 1.4 million. The total number of Christians among the Dai is estimated to be 2,000. Though some Dai groups have parts of the New Testament translated into their language, only the Tai Lu have a translation of the entire New Testament. There have been very few converts in general compared to the size of the population.