Flowers as the Matchmaker of Bulang Ethnic Minority
Young Blangs have freedom, which are supported by their parents and social conventions, to choose their marriage partners. When they have reached the age of 14 or 15, they could publicly join in social activities and courting after the teeth-dyeing ritual.
“Chuan guniang (dating girls)” is a traditional way of courting for the Blangs. In most cases it is held in groups, but sometimes in pairs, too. When the moon rises, boys put on their new dresses and take their Sanxian (a triple-stringed instrument). They then come together to the bamboo houses of the girls and sing beautiful songs to win their heart. Girls would dress themselves up elaborately, light the fire, and open the door to ask the boys in. They show their minds tactfully by serving cigarettes, tea and singing songs. This is a very common way for the communication of their feelings, thoughts and cultivation.
When their love grows deeper each day, the young man would then propose to the girl. Flowers serve as the matchmaker in many Blang mountain areas. A young man presents to his beloved girl a bunch of flowers collected from mountains. If the girl is sure of his sincerity, she would pick out the most beautiful flower and wear it on her head to show her admission.
The Blangs have a very peculiar way of holding the wedding ceremony, which repeats itself two or three times for a couple. After the engagement, the girl is invited to the young man’s family, and a “Shuanxian (thread fastening the couple) ceremony” will be held. Then, they depart and get back to each one’s home. At daytime, the groom works at his own home; but at night, he must go to the girl’s house and live with her. This period, named as “congqiju (live with the wife)” or “wangmenju”, lasts for three years. Three years later, if they still love each other deeply and have had children, a second ceremony will be held on an auspicious day. This one is grand and solemn. Both the two families would hold a feast, to which all the villagers and relatives are invited. The head of the clan and other elders would give blessings to the couple by fastening them together with a thread. After the ceremony, the bride has been formally married to the groom and would go to live with him. She then formally becomes a member of the man’s family. After another three years, if the couple chooses to live by themselves, a third ceremony will be held. However, many people now choose to have only one wedding ceremony. And the traditional wedding custom has been changed.