Feature Story

Customs

International Analogy

In Zhaoqing in China's Guangdong province, the boat people, also known as Tankas, have a tradition of holding grand weddings on water. The matchmaker proposes marriage in the name of the groom at the bride's place and the groom's family will send a large array of betrothal gifts to the bride. The Tankas strictly abide by etiquette, and the water wedding usually lasts for two to three days.

Water Wedding

One of the most representative rituals of the fishing village is the traditional water wedding, a tradition among fisher-folk that can last up to two or three days.

With lanterns hanging over the boat, ladies of the bride's family are dressed in auspicious red and green, wearing shiny golden ornaments. The groom's family sends 36 boxes of wedding gifts - an elaborate array of food, cakes, and other religious items to the bride's home, accompanied by loud celebratory music.

See more: Tai O Water Marriage

But this is just the start of the ceremony. The hero of the day, the groom, rides on another small boat with gift boxes to the bride's home. He will use a paper fan to make three hits on the bride's head, symbolising messages of health, obedience and fertility. The groom will then unveil the mantilla of the bride, who is in a red outfit. After paying her respects to the Jade Emperor, the family deities or deceased ancestors, the bride will go to the groom's house.

Amidst a spirited ambience, the boat will ride to the bride's house to bring her to the groom's household.

The bride will then present tea to her father and mother-in-law and the master of the tea ceremony will say a few blessings of luck.