Weddings are the most important part of any culture. You must know that in each culture, the ceremonies are performed differently. They have their own traditions and rituals, that they follow. Chinese weddings are very popular all across the globe for their unique traditions and customs. Though with the changing scenario, many age old rituals and customs have been lost, yet many are preserved even today.
The complete marriage ceremony and the rituals are mentioned here.
Preparations for the betrothal day
Betrothal is a very auspicious day where the parents of the perspective bride and groom actually meet. Feasts and gifts are shared between the two families. One thing is always seen that all gifts are in even numbers. This way, they are officially engaged. After the meeting on betrothal, both families make the formal announcement of the wedding date. This is done by giving wedding cakes with the invitations. These baked cakes are of different styles and flavors.
Though dowry is banned in various parts of the world, yet it is highly practiced in Chinese culture. In it, bride’s family prepares the dowry to be given to the groom’s family. It is mostly composed of items of daily necessities. In ancient times, girls used to learn needle work in their very young age. With this art, they used to prepare shoes, table cloth and socks, etc. These all used to be a part of her dowry. Dowry is to be sent a few days before the wedding. The groom’s family then invites some female relative or friend who has to set the bed of the bride.
Wedding decorations start from decorating the the bridal house and the wedding site. It is done by using a lot of banners and other such arrangements. Red is considered the best color in such decorations. Various lovely poems are written on these banners. Some people also write wishes for the newly wed couple.
The final day – Wedding Day
Morning starts with the hair dressing ritual. It is done by a woman who has living parents, spouse and children. This woman while tying up the hair of the bride say some auspicious traditional words. Similar rituals are performed in groom’s family too. These rituals mean that both bride and groom are entering into their adulthood.
The importance of door game
Door game is played when the groom tries to enter the bride’s home. He is prohibited from entering the door by the friends of bride. It is symbolic game that says that the bride is a very lovely girl and people from her family and friends do not want to marry her away. They all ask questions about the bride from the groom. This is a test to check whether the groom really cares about her bride. The groom will try to enter by presenting a token money.
Bridesmaid holds a red umbrella over the head of the bride when she finally goes out to ascend the car. Other people of her family scatter rice, red and green beans on her. The red umbrella is used because it is considered that it will protect the bride from any kind of evil spirit. The rice and beans are used to attract the attention of the gold chicken.
When the bridal sedan arrives at the groom’s home, there are firecrackers and music all across. She is welcomed with gongs and drums. The bride then leaps over an iron basin with lit charcoal inside. This ritual is also very important. It is done to bring prosperity into her life and to keep evils away from her.
This is an official ritual where the newlyweds bow three times. They bow to the heaven and earth, to the ancestral tablets and their parents. In the last, they bow to each other. Then the bride presents tea to all the family members. In return all these people give her some gifts. Gifts may be in the form of jewelry or money. Then the wedding proceeds to the banquet venue.
Chinese wedding food
Some common food served in Chinese weddings include fish, roast suckling pig, chicken, pigeon and lobster etc. It also includes desert bun stuffed with lotus seeds. Food also denotes different things in Chinese culture. For example, whole roast suckling pig is a symbol of the purity of the bride. Similarly, pigeon implies peaceful future for both of them.
One thing you must have noticed, that red color is used the most. It is preferred because it is considered very lucky color. It also helps to drive away all evil spirits. The brides from northern China usually wear one-piece frock. It has gold and silver designs on it. On the other side, brides from southern China wear two-piece dress having golden phoenix and dragon on it. In some cultures, a piece of red veil is used to cover the face of the bride during the wedding ceremony. It is considered that the newlyweds would see the face of each other for the first time on their wedding night.
These days, brides change their dresses at least 3 times on the wedding day. Firstly white wedding gown is worn. At the tea ceremony, traditional bridal dress would be worn. Before the end of the banquet, brides have to change their dress and wear cocktail dress.
Chinese wedding night ritual
The room of the bride and groom is decorated with dragon and phoenix candles. The newlyweds drink wine from two cups. These cups are tied together with a red string. This is the formal wedding vow in Chinese culture. Then the groom offers boiled half raw dumplings to the bride. Raw dumplings imply family prosperity.
All customs do not end with marriage. Some are even performed after the marriage. The very next morning of the wedding, bride gets up early. She prepares the meal for the whole family. It is a symbol that she is well nurtured. After some days, mostly three days the couple visits the bride’s parents.
This way, the complete marriage in Chinese culture is performed. There are a of lot many customs and rituals that are area specific. These have their own implications and accordingly they are performed.