Benzhu are local protector deities in the Dali area, their worship is a key element of Bai identity.
In Jianchuan County, Benzhu worship is closely connected with Azhali Buddhism.
In the Dali area, almost every Bai village has a Benzhu Temple, the home of a local protector spirit. These protector spirits are mostly historic figures, such as local heros, kings, generals or others who have through good deeds won the adulation of the local population.
Each Benzhu usually has his own festival day, with activities varying greatly from place to place.
Jianchuan is much more traditionally Bai than Dali, as Jianchuan's population is even today overwhelmingly Bai. In Jianchuan, Azhali Buddhism, an ancient form of Buddhism, has survived and Benzhu rituals are usually carried out by Azhali ritualists, giving Benzhu festivals a flavour very different to those in the Erhai region.