Tours to Sapa is not only a chance for travelers to contemplate the imposing, picturesque beauty that the Creator gave to this place, but also a chance for them to know more about a region with various culture, lots of traditional customs. And one of the most old-aged customs here is “Catching wife” or “Pulling wife” of H’mong people.
It sounds kinda weird, right! But you know what? It still exists up to now.
So today, let’s follow my article to get to know about this weird tradition!
Catching wife has long been considered as a specific culture of the H’mong people in marriage. The boys will find the girl who they love and drag her to his house to become his wife. It is said that the catching wife is an effective solution for many couples who cannot get married because the girl’s parents do not agree or the boy does not have enough money for their wedding.
In a “Catching wife”
Catching wife or pulling wife is usually taken place in spring when the weather is mild and everything blossoming. When a Hmong people fall in love, they will arrange to have a date in a particular place such as in the forest, on the road or in a market place. In the designated day, the boy secretly asks some of his friends and relatives to go to the dating place and help to drag his girlfriend to his house and keep her there three days. The more friends that take part in this event and the more determinedly they drag the young girl, the happier the couple will be, the longer they will live, the more children they will have and the richer they will be.
Although the girl is aware of the custom, she must still act surprised and cry out for help. The H’mong believe that it is bad if the girl does not cry out when being pulled.
The girl has to stay in the groom’s house for 3 days
Before the young couple enters the groom’s house, the father will perform a blessing ritual involving the chicken to ask the ancestors for accepting the daughter-in-law into their house. They will prepare two chickens, one coq and one hen in order to do some essential rites. After that the girl will be brought inside the house and is not allowed to visit anyone in her parent’s house for three days after this. The girl will sleep with the boy’s sisters for the first three nights.
The boy’s family will send someone to go to the girl’s family and tell them that the girl has been stolen by their family so she is now married. The boy must give the bride’s family silver, coins, pigs, chicken and rice wine for the wedding ceremony. If the boy does not have a dowry to give the bride’s family, he must live in her house until he has enough money to marry her.
A rite to welcome the new wife into the house
After keeping the girl for three days or more, the parents of the groom prepare the first wedding feast before the couple returns to the house of the bride. The groom and the bride must wear the traditional clothes in this first wedding feast. The bride will be given farewell presents and new clothes by her parents.
The second wedding feast will be held at the bride’s house. More interestingly, the bride’s family members will say a couple of words to him and offer drinks to the groom until he can no longer drink. In generally, the groom would never leave without being drunk. After finishing the wedding feast at the bride’s house, they return the groom’s house and hold another party to thank the groomsmen who help the groom for catching wife.
In some case, the groom will have to stay and work for the wife’s house until he can afford to marry her
However, when returning to her parent’s house, if the girl cries and tell them that she does not like the boy’s house, then the marriage is cancelled. They together drink a bowl of rice whisky and things remain as they were.
Even though this costume of H’mong people no more appropriates to nowadays life. It’s still something that’s needed to know about whenever mentioning about a Northwest region with colorful culture.