On-Water Wedding

Updated: 2016-03-29

A centuries-old tradition of high folk-custom appreciation and aesthetic value, On-Water Wedding was not long ago been revived in riverside areas of Doumen District. Enhanced by intricate rituals, the waterside environment, and distinct matrimonial apparel, and accompanied by Shatian Folk Song, the ceremony melodiously blends Guangfu, Hakka, and Dan Clan cultural practices.

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Proceedings are initiated with Meeting in the Sitting Room during which the bride, at home, pays tribute to both her own nuclear and extended family. En masse the relatives then vocalize a long-revered Xianshui Song which is intended to bestow prosperity upon the couple.

The Combing Hair episode has the bride first showering and then dressing up in the presence of two elderly women whom themselves have large, happy families. These venerable seniors ignite red candles in front of ancestral tablets after which they comb the bride's hair whilst musically intoning a bright future.

Then ensues Sending a Party to Escort the Bride to the Groom's Home. At this juncture, the fiancé's relatives and/or friends parade to board a boat, which the groom has chartered, at the riverside.

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Groom's Party Meeting the Bride sees the paternal family embark in this specially earmarked paddleboat laden with betrothal gifts under a canopy. Upon hearing a gong at their destination, they disembark to greet the young lady who may be carried to the boat on the back of an older sister-in-law.

Following arrival and waterside pleasantries, the newlyweds step over a fire basin in the Bowing Ceremony to pay homage to the bride's ancestors. She follows this up with the respectful presentation of tea to the groom's elders, who, in return, endow her with "packet money" and jewelry.

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An invigorating reflection of waterside folk customs, the legacy spiritually binds overseas Chinese and Hong Kong and Macao residents to their original hometowns, including not only Zhuhai but also Zhongshan and Jiangmen. Some overseas Chinese still practice the wedding rites in reminiscence of the folk culture and familial ties.


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