A Khampa Tibetan Wedding Ceremony in Yushu, China
Inside the hotel banquet room, at least 500 guests…View image… were sitting around tables eating and being entertained by dancers on the stage…View image while waiting the bride and groom. The bridal party formed a procession in the lobby, entered the large banquet hall and walked onto the stage…View image… where an emcee made a lengthy speech and welcomed the guests on behalf of the family.
The Head Lama, also referred to as a “living Buddha”, then said prayers over them and placed Katas, white scarves, around their necks. The bride and groom continued by putting white scarves on each other and they were married. As simple as that. The room was darkened briefly and sparklers were set off. With that, all the guests jumped up and formed a line to congratulate the married couple and place more white scarves around their necks.
A kata is an auspicious symbol offering to guests in greeting, presented to holy images, Lamas, government officials and used in formal situations. Guests always offer kata to the bride and groom and by the time we left, you could barely see their faces over the hundreds of kata placed around their necks.
I began watching the festivities, doing my best to be unobtrusive in the back of the room to video and photograph when Mr. Wang appeared. He grabbed my arm, and pushed me into all the activity in front of the stage. Instead of getting upset, the hospitable Tibetans and Chinese urged me to join them at their tables and welcomed me with open arms, jumping up to offer me a chair.
The music coming over the loud speakers was deafening, guests were happily chowing down on multiple courses of food, drinking liquor and we were thrilled to have had a chance to actually see a real Khampa wedding.
This was not an ordinary Tibetan wedding but a high-class Khampa wedding. A wedding like this costs around 20,000-30,0000 Yuan ($3,000-4,400 U.S), a very expensive proposition. However, both families share the cost. According to Mr. Wang, these Khampas live in the city and aren’t nomads. A nomad wedding would be very simple. Many guests give presents of money which is also used to defray the wedding costs, and if there is any money left over, the groom must buy his bride jewelry. Right on…
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