Typical marriage ritual of the San Chi


The San Chi in Bac Giang province still practice their traditional marriage rituals. 

The marriage rituals of the San Chi include an initial meeting, horoscope matching, a dowry agreement, a proposal ceremony, and a welcoming the bride ceremony. 

The San Chi prefer to get married in the spring or after the first harvest of the year. The proposal ceremony, the most important ritual, is held on the 1st or 15th day of the lunar month.

A male matchmaker and 4 young men representing the groom’s family carry offerings to the bride’s family to make a marriage proposal. The matchmaker comes from another clan and has a happy family. He is a respected and well-spoken person who has profound knowledge of San Chi customs and traditions.

When the groom’s delegation arrives at the bride’s house, people of the two families participate in a call and response singing session. If the groom’s family wins, they are allowed to come in. If they lose, they have to drink alcohol or pour alcohol over their heads as a punishment.

After the proposal meeting, the groom’s representatives return home. They smear their faces so ghosts on the way cannot recognize them and harm them. 

Ly Thi Nam of Kien Lao commune, Luc Ngan district, says the engagement period can last one to three years, during which the young couple learn more about each other. 

“Take my marriage as an example. I got married three years after the proposal. During that time, he continued to study. I stayed at home. When I was 20, we got married. The proposal ceremony announced that other men shouldn’t have any intentions toward me,” Nam shared.

The San Chi of Luc Ngan, Bac Giang, don’t ask the groom’s family to give the bride new clothes for her wedding. While waiting for the wedding ceremony, the bride has to grow cotton, weave cloth, and make a wedding gown for herself. 

One month before the wedding ceremony, the bride will have farewell parties with her relatives and the older people will deliver dos and don’ts: love your husband and children, work hard, respect your the husband’s family, don’t sit lazily at the front door, don’t wear scanty clothes, and don’t sleep outside the house.   

One day before the wedding ceremony, the groom’s family brings offerings to the bride’s family to prepare a wedding party. They leave immediately, not staying to eat at the bride’s house. 

Ly Van Mac, head of Ho hamlet, Kien Lao commune, said, “The groom’s family brings offerings to the bride including blankets, mosquito nets, chickens, and a buffalo. They must walk, not drive motorbikes, and carry on their shoulders pork, ordinary and glutinous rice, betel and areca nuts, and alcohol.” 

The next day, a matchmaker and 2 young girls from the groom’s family go to welcome the bride. On the way, the matchmaker throws coins into springs or rivers to purchase the road and chase away ghosts. The bride and her companions carry out a ritual before she comes to the groom’s house.

Ly Van Mac noted, “A representative of the groom’s family will offers the bride’s family betel and areca nuts. Her companions surround the bride to hide her. The groom’s representative has to find the bride in order to give her some betel and areca nut.”

A wedding ceremony is a happy event for the hamlet. At night the younger guests sing to congratulate the young couple and wish them a happy life.

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