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Barag Wedding on Hulun Buir Grassland

On the spectacular Hulun Buir Grassland --, the birthplace of Mongolians --,, lives the most ancient branch of the Mongolian group- -- the Barag Tribe, which appeared in many historical materials prior to Mongolia's the unification of Mongolia.

Academicians differ in have varied opinions in regards to the historical origin of the "Barag people". Some believe they were originated from the east of Baykal River, while others believe they originated ; some from Heilongjiang River . Still a third group feels they came and others from the Kerulun River.

As to the origin of the name "Barag", there is no agreement on this by expertshas been reached in the academic circles, either. Some scholars think it has something to do with a Shamanism myth, in which the wordk "Barag" appeared, and some believed it is related with a Tujue (an ethnic minority in ancient north China) word "Bayiergu", which means "happy or well-off people" in Turki (the language of Tujue ethnic group). A third opinion is that the word is created byis a product of the people living in the east of Baykal Lake.

These varied opinions lead help make the Barag people, with its special historical legacies and ethnic traditions, to be the most unique branch of all of the Mongolian groups, with their characteristics on historical legacies and ethnic traditions.

Today, we will take a glimpse into the unique culture, art and dressing code of this special Mongolian group through a wedding ceremony, which people say is the most effective and efficient way to know an ethnic minority group.

By the side of the beautiful Hohonursz Lake, Meng Ke, a handsome lad Meng Ke and Nuo Min, a lovely girl, Nuo Min who faell in love with each other by the side of the beautiful ?Hohonursz?right spelling? Lake, and have been dating for a long time. Since they are faithful believers of free love, they are preparing getting ready to get married without following abiding by the ancient Brag engagement customs.

Then oOne a golden autumn day, Meng Ke's family members arrive at Nuo Min's home, aiming to set a wedding date. As all the Barag people are sincere believers in Shamanism, the parents attach much importance to choosing the selection of an auspicious wedding date for their children, and thinking it ias vital of great importance to their children's safety and well-being and safety.

After much discussion and selection, the wedding date is finally set. The good news will soon be known all across widespread on the Barag Grassland, as while the bride and groom's parents busily are busy sending invitations to relatives and friends.

With only ten plus days before away from the wedding, the whole Meng Ke family arefamily concentrates on making preparations for the wedding ceremony. According to the Barag customs, the yurt for the newlyweds has to be covered with new felt rugs. So, during the yurt's constructionwhile building the bride's yurt, the new felt rug also has to be madey have to make a new felt rug. Rolling the felt rug is an interesting job, which requires many people's participation. When finished, the new felt rug is wrapped up and dragged hauled ?by hauled, do you mean carried? Or do you mean pulled?at on the back of by a horse so that it will become smooth and solid.

Meanwhile, at the Nuo Min's home, a group of deft women are making the wedding clothes. On the Barag plain, it is the a custom to prepare clothes for the bride for all four seasons; and all of the clothesm are hand-made stitch by stitch. Besides, a special pillow is also to be made for the newlyweds.

As Tthe wedding ceremony is a grand social occasion for gathering for the people living on the vast grassland, so everyone will dress themselves in their most beautiful clothes to show their best side. The wedding ceremony, therefore, provides a stage for them to show their personal charm.

After the many a long-time preparations, the wedding procession finally sets off, as the toastmaster dips his hands into dairy and expresses best wishes to them by paying tributes to the gods. On the Barag plain, the wedding procession always leaves in the night with and the bridegroom is often dressed well like an armed soldier to being sent to the front, both of which have been the traditions ever since Genghis Khan 's times.

Having arrived at the Bride' house, the master of the wedding ceremony master, the matchmaker and the bridegroom will enter the yurt in succession and extend their greetings to the elders sitting right in the north one after another. The bride, with her bridesmaid, sits right behind. In the Barag wedding, there are rigorous regulations regarding the main yurt's seating arrangement of seats in the main yurt. After that, the bridegroom will presents his gifts to the bride's parents, which process proposes the wedding feast be held together.

Prior to leaving, the bride's elders will dress the bridegroom in the handmade wedding clothes and put on a 1.6-meter-long belt around his waist, which means longevity according to Barag customs. Beside, tThey are also to handrm him with a bow and some arrows.

As the dawn breaks, the wedding procession will starts back ahead of the bridegroom to inform the family members of the glad tidings and wait for the bride's arrival of the bride.

Back at the bride's home, the family members, relatives and friends of the bride, having drunk the wedding wine, set to check the dowery and get ready to see the bride off. Having to part with her beloved parents and hometown, Nuo Min feels very sad; so does . And so is her mother, who bids farewell to her the daughter with tears in eyes, and spills some milk over the ground, praying a peaceful and fortunate life for her daughter.

In a traditional Barag wedding, the bride's escorting procession of the bride leave for the bridegroom's home on a team of horsebacks, constituting a horse team, in which the horses are all strong and sturdy horses, with respective characters in their hair colors. As a mMatching to such a the horse team, is a two-horse-driven wagon driven by two horses is used, which is for the senior or respectable peoplersons. Sometimes, a small two-wheeled carriage is also used to go with the horse team. Inside the wagon or carriage are numerous decorations, which also conveys the traditional culture and life as well as religious beliefs.

As the Hunlun Buir Grassland covers a vast area and the Barag people are sparsely scattered, sometimes, it takes a day or several days for the wedding procession to reach the bride's home. In modern times, however, the Barag people have begun to use cars for at their wedding day.

As is thea custom, the bridegroom's family usually sends for a team to receive the escorting procession and serve wine and cigarettes to the distinguished guests. After that, the two teams will head off to the bridegroom's home, where people are waiting anxiously wait. Upon arrival, the escorting procession will circle the yurt clockwise for three times laps before and then dismounting by the side of the hitching post.

In accordance with Barag customs of marriage, the bride cannot enter the bridal chamber until the entire all the dowerydowry has been moved in. The most interesting is the custom of beating the pillow, when people fight to beat the bride's pillow with a stick. This signifies is meant to washing away the dust for the newlyweds so that they will stay loyal to each other. After a fit of buzzing and bustle and commotioning, the escorting people are invited into the yurt in the order of seniority.

Right after the wedding ceremony, the bride goes to the kitchen and sets to prepare milk-tea. It is a long-existing tradition for the bride to serve the milk-tea she first prepares after marriage to the guests, which not only shows her cooking abilities but also marks the beginning of her being a part of the family.

After the bride's milk-tea, it is time for the escorting procession to return start their way home. The bride's elders will usually make it a point of especially exhort ing the newlyweds to respect the elders, and love the young and to live in love and harmony. Then, the bridegroom's family members will toast and bid farewell to them. Afterwards, Following that, the quickest lad among the escorting procession will grab the silver bowl and ride away, who are to then be chased by the rider sent for by the bridegroom's part. Vying for the silver bowl is seen as a comparison and competition of skills and strength between the two families.

Among good wishes and farewells, the escorting procession set foot on their way back, while people gather ed at the bridegroom's family to give themselves over to dances and songs, as nd a the bonfire will stay burns ing until dawn.

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