Unique bride procession of Dao Khau wedding

(VOVWORLD) - The Dao Khau of Sin Ho district, Lai Chau province, believe that all things that begin before the sun rises will go well, particularly for important events such as a wedding where the procession to take the bride to the groom’s house is usually held between 5 am and 8 am. Before the first gleam of daylight, Dao Khau villagers cheer the groom’s wedding delegation departing for the bride’s house. They wear splendid costumes and are accompanied by a musical group. 
Unique bride procession of Dao Khau wedding - ảnh 1A bride stands outside the groom's house waiting for a ritual to erase all bad luck for her. (Photo: VOV)

The Dao Khau wedding takes place over 3 days. On the first day they prepare necessary things at the groom’s house. The second day is for the bride procession. The wedding ends early on the morning of the third day. On the night before the bride procession, people gather at the groom’s house for an all-night party. 

“The midnight party includes the groom’s parents and relatives, representatives from the bride’s family, the matchmakers, and a shaman,” said Tan My Dao of Sin Ho district.

”The families of the groom and the bride review the things they will bring to the bride’s house, such as cash, jewelry, clothes, and other gifts. When everyone is happy, they accept each other as family members, and change the way they address each other.”

The next morning, a musical group plays joyful melodies to accompany the groom’s delegation to the bride’s house. The delegates include 4 or 5 well-spoken people, a man carrying cigarettes, 2 girls carrying a tray of tea cups and a thermos of boiling water, 3 or 4 men carrying a bench, and a little boy and a girl who will carry the bride’s belongings, including a small blanket.

Before departing, the shaman holds a ritual to inform the ancestors of the bride procession. He burns incense and places an offering of chicken, fresh water, and liquor on the altar to encourage the deities and ancestors to make everything go smoothly.

The delegates kneel in front of the altar to pray for health, no obstacles on the way, and safe arrival at the bride’s house, and a safe return to the groom’s house. 

When they finish the ritual, the loud music starts up. A clarinet player leads the procession. They stop at a distance from the bride’s house and play more loudly to signal the bride’s family to bring the bride out. 

When the bride comes, they sit down on the bench to drink tea and assign people to carry the bride’s things. 

“The clarinet player leads the musical group. They walk 3 counter-clockwise circles which symbolizes tying and 3 clockwise circles which symbolizes untying. The action indicates the groom’s respect for the bride’s family,” said Cheo A Xoang, a clarinet player in Phang Xo Lin commune.

”Finally, they bow their heads to greet the matchmaker. The matchmaker bows his head in response and signals the delegation to follow the musical group back to the groom’s house,” he added.

On the way home, the musical group must play continuously with no interruption.They checked the path the previous day to clear any obstacle. 

Unique bride procession of Dao Khau wedding - ảnh 2A Dao Khau couple invites tea to their relatives and guests. (Photo: VOV)

Arriving at the groom’s house, the delegation stops in the front yard. The bride stands alone at the main door, facing out. The shaman conducts a ritual to ask the deities and ancestors to erase all bad luck for the party, particularly for the bride.

“When the shaman finishes the ritual, a woman who has a happy family that includes both sons and daughters, spreads a mat in the main hall, places the bride’s blanket on the mat, and leads the bride to sit on the blanket facing the altar,” said Shaman Cheo Lao U of Sin Ho town.

”A man then hangs a red cloth on the main door to signal that the house has a new daughter-in-law. The shaman completes a spiritual ritual to make the bride an official family member so their ancestors will bless her.”

A lucky woman takes the bride and two maids to the wedding room. She waits until a propitious moment to go out and perform a ritual at the ancestral altar.

At midnight the wedding party begins. The groom’s parents thank the relatives and villagers for attending the wedding. Young people in beautiful clothes enjoy the meal and sing love duets to congratulate the newly-weds.

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