In Bunong culture, traditional weddings usually feature necklaces of beads and thread and sticky rice in their wedding ceremony; the necklaces are worn by the elder close relatives of the groom and bride, including their parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings. This is one of the main ways by which the ceremony can be identified as being uniquely Bunong.
The Bunong ceremony is completely different from that of the Khmer as the latter includes many things that Bunong weddings do not including chanting by Buddhist monks, ‘Krong Pea Li’, the shading of the parents under umbrellas, hair cuts for the groom and bride, side by side salute, welcoming guests as they arrive, multiple outfit and make up changes etc. In Bunong weddings by contrast include sacrifices to the participants’ ancestors and to placate spirits that cause thunder and poisoning, the playing of gongs and drinking of jar wine with meat, and not having obligatory gift giving by the guests to the couple. Bunong people are far happier to spend on their wedding day because of this as they are not concerned with profiting from the gifts brought by wedding guests as Khmer people tend to be; thus Bunong wedding guests eat buffalo, pig and chicken freely.
- A material proposal in which gifts are brought to the bride’s family when asking for her hand, such as shoes, bags, soap, power and lip stick
- The playing of loud music through large speakers and dancing in non-Bunong styles
- The sending of written invitations to guest
- The welcoming of wedding guests by the bride and groom at the entrance of the wedding venue
Some parts are also cut from the traditional Bunong ceremony including the singing of songs to the wedding guests while they are eating and the playing of gongs (replaced by Khmer music played through large speakers)
Some Bunong people also choose to organize two ceremonies for the bride and groom: one Bunong and one Khmer. These can take place on two different days or at different times of the same day. Very often the reason this is done is because of the practice of the giving of monetary gifts to the couple in the Khmer wedding, as the families organizing the wedding want to recoup their expenditures and make a profit; this stands in stark contrast to traditional Bunong attitudes towards weddings where money was not a concern for the participants.
Despite these new trends, the majority of Bunong people still maintain their traditional wedding practices and do not include many Khmer elements in their ceremonies as their respect for the spirit and belief in the importance of Bunong culture is strong. The main risk facing the traditional Bunong wedding ceremony is people moving away from it due to not being clear on the stages and practices that comprise it. For example, previously Bunong people wore breechcloth, Bunong sarongs, beam necklaces and tusk earrings on their wedding day but have ceased to do so as the knowledge of how to produce these costumes has begun to disappear from Bunong culture.
There are two different types of Bunong wedding ceremony- normal ceremony and Katis ceremony. Both the Katis and the normal ceremony require 3 days of preparation for properly organizing the ceremony
- Day 1: The relatives of those involved gather at the bride’s house to eat, drink and discuss the upcoming wedding and make the house look crowded for the community to see
- Day 2: the preparations for organizing the wedding that were discussed the day before are put into place
- Day 3: A special ceremony takes place on this day in which the couple pass sausages to their relatives