Achang Ethnic Minority: Best Men Accompanying the Groom with Umbrellas to Meet the Bride
Two best men accompanying the groom with umbrellas to meet the bride is one of the many special and interesting customs that have been preserved till now in marriage ceremonies of the Achang ethnic group.
Residence of the Achang Ethnic GroupOn the wedding day, the groom leads a group of kindred and some other people to the bride’s home to meet her. When they get into her courtyard, sisters of the bride, who have waited for a long time, would splash water towards the groom to make fun of him or to test him. The well-prepared ‘guards”-the two best men-would open their umbrellas to shield the groom on both sides from the splashing water. The three would then proceed while hiding themselves from the water. Sometimes, they intentionally evoke them to splash more water. After this, if the groom is wetted, the winning girls would guffaw and teasing the young men; if the groom and his partners move with agility and the groom remains largely dry, they will also wink and smile at them to show that they have won. This dramatic scene lasts not very long, yet it produces much joy and merriness.
About this custom, Achangs have a byword: “Water had once brought in a misfortune; now let the umbrellas save the groom.” It is said that this derives from a love tragedy that is widely related among the folk people. A young girl married with her lover secretly to resist an arranged marriage. Seeing no hope of breaking them up, her utterly discomfited brothers poured cold water towards the groom on the wedding day when he came to meet the bride. The cold water killed the groom. Despaired of life, the girl committed suicide by hanging. In order to remember this tragedy as a lesson and also in memory of the brave girl, people added this custom to wedding ceremonies thereafter. However, the point is that there is not any hostility or enmity in it now-it has become a mere ritual to create an atmosphere of happiness to the joyous occasion.
Another custom of their wedding ceremonies is even more joyful and interesting. At the wedding feast, the sisters of the bride will seize every opportunity to black the groom’s face with pan soot. Then, they take two long bamboos with leaves and give them to the groom. The groom will have to use them as chopsticks to hold a piece of meat. The long and clumsy bamboos are hard to control; what is worse is that someone always touches the tops of them from behind, which makes the task even more difficult. Seeing the groom so abashed, people around would then make roars of hearty laughter.