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The Wedding of Shui

The Shui ethnic minority practices monogamy and does not allow marriages inside a clan. The marriage custom keeps much traditional flavor and values formal wedding. Before the marriage, young people may fall in love with each other in antiphonal-style singing activities and outings held in festivals or market days. Even if they prefer free love, they still need a matchmaker and a formal wedding.

After a young man and young woman fall in love with each other, they should first ask a third person to tell their parents. If parents on both sides agree, the young man entrusts a matchmaker to send gifts and make a proposal to the young woman's family, and set an auspicious date on which the young man's family will have piglets sent to her family. On the formal wedding day, a big pig will be sent to her family.

On the banquet, guests have to drink up a cup of wine when the hostess sings a song. On the way to the bridegroom's home, the bride usually wears high collar, neckline and bracelets, holds a red paper umbrella with a split on it and walks in front of the escorting procession. The bridesmaids and groomsmen follow her and then a long procession of people who carry dowry such as bins, bedding and food.

Generally speaking, the bride has to leave her parents' home at noon and enter the bridegroom's house at six to seven o'clock in the evening. She shall not enter before the auspicious hour. The bridegroom's parents shall go out and slide over the bride and return home after she enters the room. On the wedding night, the bride sleeps with the bridesmaids. On the next day, she goes to live with her parents. After the period of wedding, the bridegroom fetches the bride and they live together from then on.

Some brides stay one to two months after they return to parents' home for the first time after wedding. On the way to bridegrooms' home, thunders and change of weather are taboos. Therefore, marriages are mostly held in the autumn and winter.

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