The Myanmar Times
Friday, 18 April 2014
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Traditional weddings remain popular for Chin

Chin couple receive blessings during their traditional wedding. Photo: The Myanmar TimesChin couple receive blessings during their traditional wedding. Photo: The Myanmar Times

Every tribe in the world has their own tradition reflecting their past generations including the Chin tribe of Myanmar. In particular they hold their wedding traditions sacred and put a lot of work into the ceremony.

“Hornbills are famous in love and veracity therefore we took that as our state mark and I think we are also well known as loving each other and veracity,” Dr Gin En Cin told the Myanmar Times.

Chin people live in the north-west of Myanmar. They can be further divided into 51 tribes different groups spread across nine townships and 476 village tracts in the Chin state.

In the days before Chin state was colonized, courtship went something like this: When a girl and a boy fall in love with each other, the custom is for one of the closest friends of the boy talk to the parents of the boy and let them know that their son has fallen in love with the girl and they want to marry.

So the boy’s parents go to the girl’s house with a bottle of alcohol which normally called “Zuthawl pia” (give an alcohol bottle for an engagement) and talk about the engagement.

If the girl’s parent agree they drink the alcohol. And they continue talking to choose the betrothal date which they think is auspicious. The date is normally take a month after the engagement, but it depends on the two families.

After they have done the agreement they hold a “Mopina” (ceremony to take the bride from her house) at the bride house on the date chosen at the first meeting.

To start the “Mopina” ceremony the responsible person from the bridegroom’s side have to give K4 to the bride’s family as “Thaman” which means to ask permission to take the bride. From there, a long and complex negotiation over money begins, with many different payments passing between the families.

“Thalloh man” is the price paid in the event that bridegroom’s relative has ever killed a person from the bride’s side of the family. If so, they just give it back K6

“Min man” is the price to adopted a name. In chin tradition a person always need to start the name with their grandpa’s or grandma’s last name so they give K2.

“Nu man/ Angkhen man” is the price to give to the mother of the bride as she gave birth to the bride and took care of her so they give a traditional blanket.

“Kan man” is K3, and is only given if the bride has elder sister or brother who is not yet married.

If they are all agree on these negotiations the ceremony is finished. According to the old traditions, the bride’s family give their daughter a “Saseng” (a basket), “Saseng sin” (a blanket to cover the basket), “Tu” (a mattock), “Hei” (an axe) and “ZuBel” (a bottle for alcohol). Today, however, most of the people from Chin state are living in the cities and give their daughters money and jewels.

These traditions continued until around 1899 when the missionaries from America came to Chin State and converted the population to Christianity. “Chin people are always started the important events and ceremonies with drinking alcohol in ancient time...we modernized some of our traditions according to [Christianity] such as we use to bring sugar and milk instead of alcohol,” said Dr. Gin En Cin, who is working for developing Chin literature, “Although we modernized some of our tradition styles to appropriate with our religion and environment we still keep using many traditions from the like past because we believe those are very meaningful and precious.”

Nevertheless, some of the tradition are changing because of the religion believes and their upgrade knowledge. “We now realized that it is very foolish to appraise our daughter with money, therefore we never ask money for “Manpi” the bride price now a day, we just always oblige to the bridegroom’s side that just to give the deepest love to our daughter,” said Dr. Thawng Go Thang, 60 years-old.

“But in the ancient time people were asking as much money as possible for the “Manpi” (the bride price)...The husband or some other people may even say that you are not precious therefore you were paid so little. Therefore in the ancient time, the bride never ask very little amount of money for the bride price,” he said.

“Also, there are some changes in the wedding tradition of Chin according to the environment we live because nowadays many people from the state immigrate to the cities so it is not really convenient to use some tradition in cities such as killing the pigs at home.”

“When I get married I would like to use the traditional style. It’s is not only because it comes from our past but also I believe that some of the traditions are really good to follow,” said 25 years-old Chin man, Kappu, about his opinion on the traditional style of the wedding.