Traditional Bunong Wedding: Normal Wedding Ceremony (to be continued)

DSC_0316Normal Wedding Ceremony

A normal Bunong wedding is one in which the ceremony is organized in a traditional manner that reflects the lack of a need to placate the ancestor spirits of those involved; this is due to the fact that in these weddings, the bride and the groom are either completely unrelated or are very distantlyDSC_0311 related to one another (unlike in Katis weddings, where the two are related). In Bunong, men speak of themselves as marrying women but will not talk of the reverse as a result of the language being unable to articulate the idea of women taking the active role in pursuing marriages. There are a great many disparities between the Bunong wedding ceremony and that of the Khmer. For example in Khmer weddings whether a family ultimately profits or loses out from the wedding is dependent on their economic status, whereas in Bunong ones this is based on the relational distance of those involved as being related or unrelated to one another; if they are the latter than they will have the advantage of being obliged to pay for far less sacrificial animals than if they were counted as relatives (as is the case with Katis weddings). Thus if a Khmer man marries a Bunong woman or vice versa- or further, if the offspring of such a wedding was to marry the son or daughter of their Khmer uncle- than as they are not relatives only the holding of a relatively small ceremony is sufficient and the more complex Katis wedding does not need to be organized.

IMG_3652There are six different steps to this ceremony as opposed to the Katis’ two extra ones that give it a total of eight steps. Other than these key differences, much of what precedes and follows the ceremony is much the same in both kinds of Bunong wedding. Thus once a bride-to-be’s family has agreed to the groom’s family’s proposal, they will commence the preparations and organization for the ceremony so that they will not have to spend as much on it; the woman’s family are free to act as they please in readying themselves for the wedding and are not dependent on the family of the groom. The most important animal that is sacrificed in a normal Bunong wedding ceremony is the chicken and it is customary for 2 chickens to be offered; however, a family group can get this down to only one chicken (if two is felt to be beyond their means) and the blood that is afterwards drained from the body. During the sacrifice, rice is thrown and after this, the participants proceed to the stage in which rice wine is collectively drank; three jars of rice wine is the customary requisite amount to be provided for a normal ceremony. However, if a family is prosperous and looking to improve their standing in the community by impressing their guests, they could offer buffalo or pig as sacrificial meat for the ceremony rather than chicken.

However, if the bride-to-be is found to be pregnant before the marriage has taken place than her family becomes obligated to spend far more on the wedding and indeed often end up spending more than a normal Khmer family would on their wedding as in this situation they must provide a buffalo and use its blood to pray for forgiveness. But if the woman is not pregnant then she can use the blood of a sacrificed pig in place of this.

Click here to see whole pdf file from our Bunong Wedding Posters

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