Wedding Ceremony of Dongxiang Ethnic Group

“Smashing pillows” and “‘punishing’ the bridegroom”

There are many interesting customs on the wedding ceremony of Dongxiang nationality. For example, “smash the pillows”, “‘punish’ the bridegroom” and “joke with the parents-in-law”, and so on.

“Smashing pillows” is a kind of entertainment activity when the relatives and friends banter the newlyweds on wedding day, it got the name because pillows are taken as the main props. Its mode is, the bride whose head is covered with cloth sits dignifiedly on the kang, and is closely surrounded by the bridesmaid and other women. The male youths that participate in bantering the newlyweds find opportunities by every possible means, smash the bride with pillows, force her to lift the cloth that covered her head, and let all people “see her face” and appreciate the dowry. At the beginning, the women take strict precautions, so it is difficult for the pillows to smash the bride even they fly quickly. But after some time, the women gradually show signs of tiredness, and some loopholes begin to emerge in the precautions. While the young men “fight” more bravely, and succeed frequently when attacking. Having no other choice, the bride can only “lift her cloth and surrender” and let all the people see her face. The whole process is full of happy laughter and cheerful voices and extraordinarily lively.

“Punishing the bridegroom” is an activity that the youth in the family of the bride joke with the bridegroom and groomsman when the bridegroom goes to the bride’s home to welcome her, such as lashing them with willow twigs, or scaring the horses ridden by them, and so on. Their flurried expression and funny embarrassed look often make all the people split their sides with laughter.

What is interesting is, when they prepare to go back, the bridegroom will go to the kitchen of his father-in-law, express his thanks and say goodbye to the cooking women, and try to “steal” a kitchen utensil or chopsticks, etc, symbolizing that he has “stolen” the superb cooking skills of his father-in-law’s family.