Vietnam Art Books -- The Red Dao's wedding rites (February 18, 2004)

The Red Dao's wedding rites (February 18, 2004)

The 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam have their own wedding rites, each different from the others. The Red Dao's is not an exception.

Previously, the Red Dao often married in their teens with multi-step rites, the first being the search by the young man's family for a co-villager to serve as the mediator of the marriage.

Preparing the brides attire. Playing clarinets at the wedding.

After the nod from the girl's family, offerings that include two cocks, dozens of bottles of liquor, many kilos of rice and some money, will be forwarded to her house by her would-be husband's family. The Red Dao will only schedule the wedding after a good day has been selected and the preparations completed. For them, the preparations may last for a whole year, during which the girl will be given more free time from her work so that she can devote herself more to embroidering her wedding attires and purchasing the necessities, as well as her dowry.

A Red Dao bridegroom. Stepping over three ribbons, the bride enters to the land of her husband's family.

The wedding of the Red Dao often lasts for two or three days, during which the groom's family do not go to the bride's house to bring her home. On the first day, her parents, sisters and brothers, and relatives will take her to her groom's house, and the direction from which she enters depends on the time when she arrives there. If she arrives at the house between 1-3 pm, the direction for her to enter is the East, but it will be the North if she arrives there between 5-7 pm. The walls of the house will be torn down to provide an opening for her to enter in the case where there is no door in the direction suitable to the arrival time.

Praying to the Genies for good luck for the wedding. The hamlet's Chief raises a toast to the newly-wed couple.

After praying, the religious master of ceremonies will place a basin of clean water on the threshold to be stepped over by the bride, while the groom has to remain in his neighbour's house until he is called back for another rite. The groom's family will then offer a chicken as an offering to inform their ancestors of the happy news that from now on their family has an additional member. The MC will stretch a red thread linking the couple's shoulders, read a book about the wedding rites and the way to earn money for the couple, and pray for ancestors to recognise them as husband and wife and to bless them with good luck and happiness. A strange practice in the wedding is that the bride's family members are separated from the groom's during the meals, and the bridesmaids stay in the groom's house overnight.

The second day sees the happy faces of the participants in the wedding as they are given some meat as a present from the party, the volume of which depends on the recipient's position and role in the host's family.

The next day, the girl accompanies her newly-wed husband on a visit to her old family, after which the couple settles down in the husband's family home.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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