When the Northwest of Vietnam enters the spring – the season of the festival is the time of Hmong’s men rush to prepare for the bride kidnapping day (or pulling wife). According to many people here, bride kidnapping custom is long time ago. The boys and girls who have reached the age of marriage fell in love with each other; dating in the forest, on the street, or in the market; and then late afternoon, the guy ask a few friends to kidnap the girl and pull back to his home.
The couple knows and dates each other in advance
Although the couple loves each other, expecting to live together for the rest of their life, but no girl ever stepped on her husband’s house by herself, the boys have to arrange a kidnapping to bring the girl back his house. The more people join to the “kidnapping group” and fierce of the kidnapping, the more happy, long live, rich, and many children for the couple.
Normally, for the Hmong people, when a boy and a girl fall in love each other, they will report to their families. If all goes well, the boy’s family will invite matchmaker to go to the girl’s family and then ask for a affiance ceremony, a miai ceremony and finally the wedding ceremony. Weddings are usually held in the spring, when the earth and sky meet each other, all living things reproduce and develop.
In fact of the life, there are many couples love each other without getting married, mainly their parents do not agree. Therefore, the bride kidnapping is a good solution for them. On a beautiful day, the guy will date the girl to chat, and then his relatives and friends secretly help him to pull the girl to his home. Despite, the girl knew everything in front of her but she still suddenly surprise, pretend to scream out or cry for her family come to save her.
The rule of bride kidnapping practice
It is thought that the girl was kidnapped for wedding without crying and shouting considered spoiled, the family and villager will despise her. When the bride’s family comes to rescue the girl with sticks, the boy’s friends will stand out to suffer the beating to bring the girl to the boy’s home. According to the rule of the Hmong, when doing “Bride Kidnapping”, the boy’s family is not allowed to fight against the girl’s family.
Pulling the bride must also be very clever to keep her feet do not touch the ground, no pulling force, cannot fight back, her mouth cannot bite anybody; without harming the girl. When the girl is near the boy’s family, the bride pulling group send a person to run ahead for the news with people waiting in the house of the boy such as: father, mother, aunt, groom’s uncle to catch a pair of chickens (a hen and a young rooster) waiting at the front door to conduct the ritual when the bride pulling group arrive. Then the girl was brought into the house.
The Hmong people think that the girl has been conducted the ritual with a hen and a young rooster by people for entering the boy’s house and then her parents will not accept her return back her house. The girl became a member of other family, belong to that family forever even when she dead.
During the feast to treat people those joined in the bride kidnapping, the boy’s family will send a person to the bride’s family to report they are successful in kidnapping bride to their house. Therefore, when the bride’s family knows their daughter was pulled to the boy’s family, although they do not agree, feeling uncomfortable, they have to agree.
When kidnapping the girl to their house, the boy’s family arranges the girl to sleep with the boy’s sisters three nights. By the third morning, they would prepare the round sticky rice cake to bring the girl back her house for ritual. The group go to the bride’s house including the groom, his parents and relatives; the groom must knee down and bow to all members of the girl’s family to get acquainted.
The girl’s family also held a party to welcome the boy’s family. At this feast, the bride’s representative asked the bride: does she want to spend the rest of her life with her boyfriend. If consent is found, the girl’s family happily prepares all stuffs for the girl go to her husband’s house, all preparations for the wedding begin. If the girl just came back her house with grief, crying and beg her parents that she do not want to go to the boy’s family, the marriage is certainly canceled.
The poor man cannot kidnap bride
According to the conception of Hmong people, the early marriage of a son for his family does not only mean maintaining the lineage, but also increasing the family members for the upland farming. The age of getting married for boys is usually from 11 to 15 years old, girls are always 2 or 3 years older than her husband. Mostly, when the husband has just pulled his wife is not fluent in the upland farming; he only can go to look after buffalo herd. At that time, the wife was the main laborer with her parents-in-law to increase production. A few years after getting married, the husband will grow up and being ready to take care of the hard work of the family from the fields, cutting wood, building houses, harvesting agricultural products…. the wife will give birth and look after children, weaving, and planting vegetables.
The Hmong girls are kidnapped many times to show that she is beautiful, skillfully in embroidering and weaving cloth, and work hard to be loved by many boys in the village. In contrast, the boys must do bride kidnapping a lot of time show that his family does not have good conditions and poor so he cannot get married.