The custom of dragging wife of H’Mong people
As usual, spring is also the opportunity for young H’Mong women and to meet each other. These can be year-end markets, festivals during the New Year’s Day, or firewood & water picking day to prepare for a new year. With a large population, H’Mong people in Vietnam still retain their traditional cultural characteristics. The custom of dragging wife that called wife robbery is a unique feature in the marriage of the H’Mong.
When the couple complains and swear to marriage, they will report back to their parents and family. If everything goes well, the man’s family will invite matchmaker to ask for the engagement party (the wedding appointment) and finally the wedding (the wedding procession).
This custom can be happened for a variety of reasons such as: The boy likes the girl but the girl refuses, the son’s family used the power to “rob the wife” for his son… But these cases have only happened in the past, under the feudalism. Today, as many other ethnic groups, H’mong people always respect the regime of one wife-one husband. The concept of beautyfull couple is healthy, ethical and hard working.
Marriage is the result of voluntary love. The dragging wife custom is now the affirmation for the intense love and aspirations for a happy family of H’Mong girls.
H’Mong weddings are usually celebrated on good days in the spring, because people are abstinent to wed in thunderstorms months. And it is thought that spring is the season of things to multiply. But not every love story has a happy ending without experiencing turbulent.
In fact, there are many couples who love each other earnestly but they cannot get the agreement from one of their family (mostly the girl’s parents). When parents didnot agree but the couple finds themselves to live together, they not only are considered impious but also the marriage is not accepted by the community. At that time, the couple will discuss to marry each other by “The dragging wife custom” with the help from relatives.
Everything is planned in secret that the girl’s family do not know it, the girl is still collecting firewood and picking water as usual. Then one day as scheduled, the man appeared. Friends of the guy appeared and helped the guy pull the girl to home while they are talking.
The girl still felt surprised and cried despite knowing everything. Not only that, girls have to pretend to call for help from her family. It is thought that the girl was taken to wife without crying, it is cheap and spoiled girl. When the bridegroom come to save the girl, the boy’s friends will take the hit for him to let him take the girl to home.
After the boy’s family brought the chicken to the feast, the girl was brought into the house. The H’mong perceive that the girl was made the entrance ceremony by a rooster, even if the girl had left home, her parents would not be able to accept it because she had belonged to other family. Therefore, knowing that his daughter has been pulled to wife, even if they do not agree, the girl’s family also agreed.
However, the two parties can agree on the wedding when going to the engagement party. But if the boy used the dragging wife custom, the girl’s family will be less sympathetic and often punish by asking for higher than usual. The boy must determine that he will be fined if he uses the dragging wife custom. And they have to meet the requirements of the girlfriend no matter how much they claim. Because of these rules, not all families can use the “dragging wife” for boys.
Families want to use the dragging wife custom are routinely well-off family so as to meet the requirements of the girl’s family. It may take up to three years for the boy’s family to pay the fine.