The Thai’s custom of challenging son-in-law

(VOVWORLD) - The Thai ethnic minority in Vietnam’s northwestern region used to have a custom called “time of challenging a future son-in-law”. A man who wants to marry a girl has to stay with her family for at least a year before an official marriage.

The Thai’s custom of challenging son-in-law - ảnh 1 Wedding gifts that the groom gives the bride's family.

Ca Van Chung, a member of the Vietnam Folklore Association, is living in Son La city. He said the custom of living with the wife’s family before marriage is a challenge for the man and a time for him to pay gratitude to his in-laws for bringing his wife up.

"The Thai think that before marrying a girl and taking her to his family, the man has to pay gratitude to her parents for raising her. The length of stay is discussed between the two families. During this time, because they are not husband and wife, the man sleeps in the living-room of the stilt house. The woman has the right to meet other men,” Chung said.

During this period, the man and the woman get to know each other. But they are not allowed to sleep together in order to protect the young lady’s dignity in case they don’t marry after the challenging period.

The Thai’s custom of challenging son-in-law - ảnh 2 A relative of the bride receives the groom's gifts.

Tong Van Hịa, a senior villager in Mong hamlet, Son La city, says: "On the first day at the girl’s family home, the man has to bow to her parents and other relatives to be accepted as a family member. If he makes a mistake, he has to ask for forgiveness. He is not allowed to sit with older people in the family or go across the sleeping room of his in-laws, the altar, and the main kitchen. The man can go back and forth between his family and the woman’s family.”

After one year or more, if the woman’s family agrees, the man will bring an offering to organize a wedding. 

In reality, few couples don’t accept each other’s weaknesses. They ended up parting without leaving a bad reputation for the woman. Tong Van Hịa said: “In the past the challenging time was quite hard for a son-in-law. He had to wake up early in the morning before all others to fetch water from the spring for the house. He had to prepare knives and hoes to work in the field. After dinner he would do some extra work such as splitting bamboo and weaving containers. He should be the last one to go to bed.” 

At present the Thai in the northwestern region have adopted a more advanced lifestyle. Young men and women are free to date while cumbersome wedding procedures have been removed. They often forego the challenging time for a son-in-law and instead just talk about it with respect for the custom.

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