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The Wedding of Dongxiang

Influenced by the Islamism, marriages of Dongxian ethnic minority is basically decided by parents while the young pair have no chance to talk with each other face to face before wedding. In most cases, the matchmaker serves as the person to convey messages for the young pair.

Generally, the bridegroom's family first sends a matchmaker to the bride's family to propose a marriage. After the bride's side consents, the groom's family should present a ceremonial gift, which is generally composed of several jin (1 jin = 0.5 kg) of refined tea and several pieces of clothes. Then comes the official engagement procedure, i.e. delivering betrothal gifts. At the appointed time, the groom, his father, uncle, the matchmaker together with the attending guests altogether will take the betrothal gifts to the bride's house.

Betrothal gifts fall into two categories: one category includes tealeaves, brown sugar, cakes, etc.; the other includes clothes, cash, earrings, bracelets, etc, which have been set in earlier discussions. In some mountainous areas of Dongxian ethnic minority, there are the practice of sending steamed buns as betrothal gifts to indicate a bumper harvest next year for the bride's parents and the daughter-in-law.

On the day of the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and the party to escort the bride to the groom's house comes to the bride's family. An imam reads the marriage testimony. It is by then that the marriage is officially acknowledged by the society. Before the reading of marriage testimony, a ceremony of accepting the bride-price will be held. According to the current economic condition of the groom's family, both sides have a discussion and make a bargain. And the bride-price is finally determined by the imam.

When arriving at the main gate of the bridegroom's house, the bridegroom's brother in the escort must carry in his arms the bride down from the carriage and into the courtyard. At the climax of the wedding ceremony, people also tease the bridegroom's father or uncles by wiping pan ashes to their faces, dressing them in sheep fur-lined coats with inside out, tying small bells to their waists, putting ragged hats on their heads and symbolically tying up their hands and feet or forcing them to ride the donkey inversely. This is called "making fun of the father-in-law".

Smashing pillows in the rough horseplay at weddings is extremely interesting. In the nuptial chamber, some young fellows smash pillows that they have prepared beforehand towards the veiled bride sitting at a corner of the kang (bed-like place for sitting in countryside), and lady friends of the bride try to protect the bride form a defense line by catching the pillows and smashing them back, laughing and shouting. Then, the lady friends pull away the bride's veil to unveil her appearance to all the people, then open the box cage to display valuable dowry. By then, it is already midnight and the bridegroom and bride then enter the bridal chamber to have a nice sleep.

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