In Asia, getting a diamond ring may not be the ultimate representation of true love. When it comes to nuptials, we have different hoops for suitors to jump through to ensure successful coupling. Here are some love rituals from the region.
The Love Hut
Why: To find the right man.
The ritual: Fathers build these love huts for their daughters as a venue to sift through potential suitors. Under parental supervision, women use these venues to sift through men to find the one who also believes in love ever-after. The process may last a few days and is repeated until their true love is found. Although it appears to just be a ‘ritual’ for the women to have sex with a bunch of men who could be her husband, it has been reported that the opportunity for the couple to get to know one another before marriage, has reduced the possibility of divorce and cheating virtually to zero.
No Poo, No Pee
Why: To ward off a bad marriage, infertility or the death of a child.
The ritual: Newlyweds in the Tidong society in Sandakan, Sabah, must hold their bowel and bladder movements for three days and three nights right after the marriage ceremony. They are monitored by their relatives and only fed the minimum amounts of food and water during this period. There is no direct relation between the act and the reasoning, nor is there a true reasoning behind this act aside from strengthening the bond between the couple. This begs the question, are they allowed to fart?
Dead Fish on Feet, No Dead Fish In Bed
Why: To invigorate the groom before the first night, to make him stronger in the marriage or to quiz him on his knowledge.
The ritual: The groom’s friends will remove his socks and shoes before laying him on his back and tying his feet together. They will then proceed to beat the soles of his feet with a dried yellow corvina fish and bamboo slabs. This is all done just before the groom leaves for the newlyweds’ first night together.
Hunnao, or wedding hazing
Why: To rid bad spirits in the groom.
The ritual: In recent years, ‘teasing’ rituals have become so extreme that some grooms find themselves in the ER. The hazing, usually done by bridesmaids to the groom and his entourage typically revolves around obstacle challenges that are designed to test the groom’s resolve to get to his bride. It’s all fun and games till someone ends up in hospital.
Sayaw ng Pera or the money dance
Why: To gift the bride and groom with money for their honeymoon and marriage.
The ritual: This is beyond an ang pow or a small nest egg in an envelope. In the
Philippines, the money isn’t good enough just being handed to the new couple. The bride and groom will dance and people will line up to stick money onto the couple either with safety pins or with sellotape. You’re not encouraged to make it rain though.
Why: Extreme dowry.
The ritual: This ritual practised in Chiang Rai is openly recognised as a custom and allows men to negotiate and pay an amount to the mothers of the women they court. Often, the amount reflects the longevity they envision as a couple. If they like each other enough, he can opt to buy her for a lifetime of companionship.