The Ma, a diverse minority group in Lam Dong province in the Central Highlands, is a community with a rich culture. Among its traditions, the wedding is one special part.
The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is a location rich with the culture of Vietnamese minority groups. As for the Ma, there are about 20,000 concentrated in the valley of the Da Don River, Duc Trong, Di Linh district and Da Lat city.
The Ma people’s community is packed with different groups such as the Ma Ngan, Ma To, Ma Xop, Ma Krung, and others. According to ethnological documents, Ma culture and traditional habits are related closely to those of the K’Ho and M’nong. Their languages all originated from the Mon-Khome system.
As in other minority groups, Ma culture is shown through folk festivities such as weddings, funerals, festivals.
The Ma wedding ceremony originally had so many steps, required so many offerings, and took so long, that many couples requested it be simplified. And nowadays, the Ma wedding is simpler.
On the wedding day, the bride will bring to her groom’s family a papoose of firewood, meaning that she will bring warmth and happiness to her future family. The groom, decorated with a feather of the Rling bird, and villagers escort the bride.
When arriving at the groom’s house, the bride’s delegation will beat on a gong, and will be responded to with another gong roll by the groom’s family. After the gong beats, the groom’s mother will hurriedly come out and welcome her daughter-in-law and receive her firewood papoose. The mother will then take the couple to say hello to her relatives and worship in front of an altar.
Meanwhile, the village patriarch kills a cock to worship, and prays for the health and happiness of the new couple. He then will smear the cock’s blood on the altar and the couple’s forehead; and release rice around the house, as way to wish happiness and prosperity to everyone.
After that, an uncle will on behalf of the groom’s parents give the couple a piece of rice and a cup of wine, as a promise from the groom’s family to share both happiness and difficulty with the couple.
As in Western culture, the couple then will present rings to each other. The uncle will cover the couple with a blanket. Villagers will bump their heads seven times, as a way to wish them togetherness forever. And then, the groom’s family will present the bride with gifts, including a nice shawl and necklaces.
The wedding stretches for two more days. Villagers come together to eat, drink and dance. The couple begins their married life the next day.
VIETNAMNET - (10/05/2006)