Marriage rituals of the natives of South East Asia
- with special reference to Tais -
- Part 1 -

Dr Budha Kamei *

1. Introduction

The turning points in the life cycle of an individual are the critical transitions of birth, marriage and death. These rites of passage, as Van Gennep called them, are practiced universally through their number and stages of life selected vary from society to society.

They consecrate the crises and marginal situations in individual and collective life. The gravity of these events is also marked by a whole repertoire of idea regarding pollution and purification.

He argued that alterations status or movements into new statues, such as in pregnancy, childbirth, at initiation, betrothals, marriage and funerals, disturb both the life of the individual and that of the society in which he lives.

Danger lies in transitional states, as transition is indefinable, it is neither one state to another is himself in danger and emanates danger to other. The purpose of the rites of passage is to trim down the harmful effect of these disturbances.

The paper attempts to throw light on the marriage rituals of Tais inhabiting in different parts of Southeast Asia.

2. A profile of the Tais Southeast Asia is a vast fertile land inhabited by different ethnic communities. The Tais are one of them and they are wide-spread. They live in the plains of southern China and the valleys of Vietnam. In Laos and Thailand, they are the dominating people. They inhabit most of the low-lying areas of northern Myanmar and a number of Tai groups are also found in northeast India.

Thus, the Tais are found innumerable groups and sub-groups under various regional names such as Shan, Thai, Lao, Dai, Nung, Bouyi, Tai Dam, Tai Deng etc. In India, the Tai people are found inhabiting in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and are known as Ahom, Khamti, Khamyang, Phake, Turung etc.

The institution of marriage is regarded as the backbone of all forms of human society with which we are acquitted.

To the Tais, marriage is considered as one of the important social events in the lifecycle of an individual; it serves the purpose of union of a man and a woman to set up family.

It is a necessity and customary duty for every man to get married to continue the society, although, he has to follow clan exogamy that a man must have his spouse from outside his clan and marriage within the same clan is strictly prohibited.

3. Methods and materials

The study is purely ethno-historical approach. The necessary data are based on available secondary materials of published works.

3.1 The Yuan and Lue Tais

The Shans, Ahoms, and other Tais follow two types of marriage: (a) informal and (b) arrange marriage. Among the Yuan poor farmers, they simply decide to live together and send parents along with areca, betel leaves, candles, and flowers to the groom’s parent house in order to propitiate the spirits of the house.

If the groom’s parents give approval to the match ‘suitable gifts’ are given to the bride. Bride and groom live in the house of the bride’ parent until a next daughter gets a husband. And among the Lue Tais, a betrothal date is fixed by ten elders representing both parties involved.

On the marriage day, the groom brings a cluster of one hundred betel nuts and the bride will do the same. When agreement is reached, the man deposits two hoi as bride price and the girl will present a dish of flowers and four pairs of wax candles.

The two clusters of betel nuts are distributed amongst the families of both parties and vows are exchanged between bride and groom to behave well towards each other.

The elders, together with the groom, then leave the bride’s house but at dusk the groom and some of his friends return.

At this stage the groom must carry a sword and bag for carrying betel nuts as symbol of being a real man. The groom stays for three years at the bride house, and after three years the young couple decides to set up their own house.

3.1.1 The Shans

Among the Shans of Namkham, on the morning of the wedding day bride and groom must be bathed near their respective homes. The wedding takes place in the bride’s parents’ house and early in the afternoon the groom is escorted in procession to that house by a group of men.

The elder members of the groom offer to the bride’s father a number of baskets full of different kinds of foods. Amongst these articles the important are four eggs and two salted fish.

The representatives then formally ask for the bride and after a proper hesitation and show of reluctance, the bride’s family give in to the request. The groom leads the bride to a low table and the couple eats curry and rice in the presence of the wedding guests.

The reminder of the bride price is paid and in the procession the bride is escorted to the groom’s house where she is led to her parents-in-law.

Before the evening she will be advised by an old woman who will tell her where the wedding bed must be placed, and that she must sleep on the left of the bed, even if her husband is not present.

3.1.2 The black Tais

When a boy does wish to open negotiations they send an intermediary with presents like betel, tobacoo, some victuals and a gold ring or necklace if they can afford it.

If the proposal is accepted, wedding details like bride price and dowry would be discussed. In an auspicious day, the groom goes in procession to the bride’s house, clad in traditional festive attire, complete with a knife in his belt. The go-betweens carry the bride price.

The sealing of the marriage traditionally consists of a ceremonial exchange of betel between the two young people, the presentation of the bride price and its acceptance in the presence of the witnesses. The important part of the wedding ceremony is also the presentation of the young man to the spirits of the forefathers. The bride also will venerate her husband ancestors and promise to respect them.

It is done at the groom’s house. After the marriage the couple should normally settle in the groom parents’ household if no other married children live there, otherwise the married couple may settle anywhere.

According to Somsonge Burusphat, Jerold A Edmonson and Megan Sinnott, “Marriages are arranged by the parents. Custom requires that the boy spend a service period working for his fiancée’s parents. Sons of nobles are expected to do from 8 to 10 years of service, while a briefer period is required of commoners.

After the service period, the marriage takes place and the girl’s parents must present the groom with a dowry.

The only exemption to the service rule is when the fiancée’s family does not have males to assist with cultivation, in which case the marriage may take place immediately after preliminary arrangements have been completed, and the groom goes to live with his wife’s family.”

to be continued .....

* Dr Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at budhakamei(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 28, 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Chingda Satpi Engellei #4 :: eRang
  • 28th Imphal Book Fair #2 : Gallery
  • Aseismic Building Design
  • Loving Death :: Poem
  • The benefits of CAA
  • Go natural with home made scrub
  • Looking at the journey from 1972
  • The Great Security Circus
  • Hentak - Indigenous Food Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Tribute Rock Concert for (L) Hegin #1 : Gallery
  • Markila, Shanghman, Charoibi : eMing
  • AMWJU amends code of conduct- Jan 22 2020
  • Lalkansung - Natl Child Award for Achievement
  • Where Vultures Dare :: Poem
  • 'BJP Nagaland President got his facts wrong'
  • Decide within four weeks message from SC
  • The Statehood Day
  • Landscape of Purul, Senapati #2 : Gallery
  • Naga Peace Process, Far from being close
  • Of bibliophile & Imphal Book Fair 2020
  • Constitutional protections to specific groups #2
  • Marketing & Sales at R-Square Design
  • Driver & Director's Assistant @ R-Square
  • Marketing & Research Officer @ Amethyst
  • Heart Camp at IGAR South, Mantripukhri
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Pragjyoti International Dance Festival
  • Mentality of those who man Khudengthabi
  • When you fail to control the L & O ..
  • Gaan-Ngai at Kakhulong #1 : Gallery
  • Children Adventure Sports Camp #2 : Gallery
  • Adventure Tourism in Manipur
  • Special Police Unit for NE in Delhi
  • Niagara Falls with Devaz
  • Project Coordinator @ MaolKeki Foundation
  • Reducing air pollution : Impact & prevention
  • Right time for Assam Rifles to Go Back
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Interesting pact between KNO & NNPGs
  • Nation & Unintegrated part now bridged
  • Conservation initiatives of Hornbills #1
  • Day 3 : Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • Reminiscence of legendary aerobiologist
  • A get-together to banish the boredom
  • Hear us oh God :: Poem
  • Resolutions on Naga Political Issue & CAA
  • Stop land allotment of Yaithibi Loukol
  • Wildfire at lower ridge of Shirui Kashong
  • Statehood Women's Polo : Gallery
  • Adversity of Diversity: Chow-Momo Indian
  • Harvard team with CM : Gallery
  • Workshop: Typesetting with Latex @ MU
  • The great cosmic discovery - VII
  • NPF opposed Citizenship Amendment Act
  • Of the highway brave hearts
  • 28th Imphal Book Fair #1 : Gallery
  • Winter Relief Program @Patsoi: Gallery
  • Who are Indigenous People of Manipur #7
  • 2019: Ministry of Development (DoNER)
  • Consultative meeting on Meetei ST demand
  • Beauty benefits of meditation
  • Environment conservation & mankind..
  • Of our Responsibility and our Rights
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai @Chingkham Kabui Khul: Gallery
  • Condolence on demise of Mahima Khan
  • Coping with anxiety before laboratory test
  • The lonely Moon :: Poem
  • Natl Conference on chemicals sciences
  • Constitutional protections to specific groups #1
  • KASHISH, Indian LGBTQ short films
  • Drugs & manufacturing: Who are the kingpins?
  • Indigenous People must defend environment
  • Cultural @ Shirui Lily Fest #4 : Gallery
  • Children Adventure Sports Camp #1 : Gallery
  • Day 3 : Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • Khangminashi VI, talk series : Food research
  • Can people of NE blame Centre alone for CAA
  • The City of Darkness :: Poem
  • Time for Nagas to build the future: Rio
  • Checking the statements of UG outfits
  • Restoring to the status of People's CM
  • Ibudhou Thangjing, Moirang :: 360 ø View
  • Phamsak collaboration in indigenous ambience
  • Why this relaxation of 12 yrs unless..
  • Being a chow-momo Indian; the fun side!
  • Monika Ingudam - Amb for India Volunteers
  • Petition to CM to dispose contract teachers
  • Call to curb favouritism and nepotism
  • For a better world - to our world leaders
  • Gaan-Ngai @ Ramji Kabui Khul : Gallery
  • Niti Aayog must stop plan to privatise health
  • For the future :: Poem
  • Career in Fashion Communication
  • Jobs at LMP Technology, Canchipur
  • Too many festivals in a year observation
  • What ails Chief Minister gi Haksel gi Tengbang
  • Thong Nambonbi broke apart: Gallery
  • Who are Indigenous People of Manipur #6
  • Fit India Khelo India
  • The Car Washed Shampoo :: Poem
  • Economic development : Special focus on hills
  • Climate change : Biggest challenge in 2020s
  • MAYA trainer at MAAC Imphal center
  • How about the Salt Lake Manipur Bhavan?
  • Fashion Show @ Sangai Fest #1: Gallery
  • Youth and Nation
  • Lyrics of Departing Year :: Poem
  • Forgotten elixir for youths of Manipur
  • Banknotes for sale
  • ADBU - 'Engaged University of the Year'
  • Traffic chaos - a serious problem
  • 'Nongju Ahing' :: eRang Classic Photos
  • Day 1 : Sangai Fest #5 : Gallery
  • City lights :: Poem
  • How China impacts security dynamics in NE
  • Rhythms & Aromas of NE at Ukhrul
  • Lipstick mistakes to avoid
  • Giving a fresh push to the Lim debate?
  • Thong Nambonbi is a part of our history
  • Shumang Leela Ningtham Kumhei: Gallery
  • Death Anniv- Maharaj Gambhir Singh : Gallery
  • Go develop the Hills : A live case study
  • A canal to augment Imphal City, a must !
  • The present health of Loktak Lake
  • Meiraba- 3rd in Badminton World Federation
  • After effects of CAA in North East
  • Film Policy - awaiting action
  • Arambai Langba @Kangjeibung : Gallery
  • JNIMS - Untold story #2
  • CAA is a threat to indigenous communities
  • Ukhrul auditions for Rhythms & Aromas of NE
  • A Wintry Number :: Poem
  • Career in fashion industry
  • Suspension Order issued by NPF to Kenye
  • Web Developer / Trainee at Lamjing IT
  • Cabinet approves NE Gas Pipeline Grid
  • Claiming hands in attack at JNU
  • The changing concept of patriotism
  • IM on integration, Pan Naga Hoho & others
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai :: e-Pao Flash Presentation
  • Gaan-Ngai :: Read all about it
  • Asylum for select migrants.. madness ?
  • Who are Indigenous People of Manipur #5
  • Irom Roshan to exhibit humanoid robot IVALA
  • NPF Statement on CAA 2019
  • Time to focus on examinations
  • The taste of Indian democracy
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #3: Gallery
  • Press Club Foundation Day: Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Post-mortem of New Year Celebration
  • Shillong audition for Rhythm & Aromas of NE
  • Army Arrived at Lunch
  • Cocktail of CAB, CAA, NRC & NPR
  • A treatise on mind #3
  • Menamparampil for Journalism Award
  • Govt committed to protect indigenous people
  • Cabinet increase pension for retired journalist
  • Hiyangthau :: Funga Wari
  • Official Release of AMAND Calendar 2020
  • Happening and good cheer as career
  • Voices of the Stars :: Poem
  • Yaikhomba: Selected National Bravery Award
  • War against the English language
  • BJP : In Delhi & Manipur: Twain does not meet
  • Licypriya- Top 100 Child Prodigy: Gallery
  • A Critique of the Manipur ILP Guidelines
  • Licypriya- 100 Child Prodigies : Report
  • Critique of ILP Guidelines (Meiteilon)
  • Architectural Designer at R-Square
  • AutoCad Drafsman at R-Square
  • Crops production & Award for Manipur !
  • New Year picnic @Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Kairembikhok Women opted carpentry
  • RIST Talk -42 @MU : Mimicking nature
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Project Engineer at R-Square
  • Site Manager at R-Square
  • Research Officer at Amethyst
  • Jobs @ Birla Emporiums, Khurai
  • Assam looking at bygone years
  • Krishi Karman Award for Manipur !
  • Khusbu Sorokhaibam : Glass Painting
  • Who are Indigenous People of Manipur #4
  • CC Meet 2019 : Fixture (Semis & Final)
  • JNIMS - Untold story #1
  • About Failed 'Real Madrid' & Climate Change!
  • Manipur : Krishi Karman Award for foodgrain
  • Year end review: Department of Atomic Energy
  • Disturbed area status & improved law & order
  • The choice is yours Mr. Chief Minister
  • Dec 30 : Sangai Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Marriage rituals of Tais #2
  • Recovering compensation from CAA agitators
  • In The Name of Democracy
  • A treatise on mind #2
  • Nightingales in Winter :: Poem
  • Social Service at Ibudhou Thangjing campus
  • Manipur start issue of ILP permits
  • 386 arrested in 282 drug related cases : 2019
  • NIA files chargesheet in AR ambush case
  • 'Marketing' on New Year 2020 eve: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #6: Gallery
  • Meetei Today launches new website
  • Manipur : As I grew up in #3
  • Bye - Bye 2019 :: Poem
  • Stands in solidarity with the Workers
  • Peace or Pandora's Box in 2020 ?
  • X-Mas @Ukhrul, @Kpi #2 : Gallery
  • January Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Normal age forgetfulness vs Dementia
  • Who was afraid of NK Sanajaoba ?
  • Bidding farewell with a new hope
  • Hogenakkal - India's Niagara
  • Degrading environment vs activities
  • State of economy in the dark times
  • Understanding the lives of Trans community
  • New species: Trichodesma Kumareum
  • The Spear is born for the Zulu
  • Water Pollution: Causes & Effects
  • Year End Review 2019, Dept of Youth Affairs
  • Bridging disconnect & delving deeper
  • X-Mas @Ukhrul, @Kpi #1 : Gallery
  • Day 3 : Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • State of our state
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #2: Gallery
  • Destination NE @ Vanarasi #5: Gallery
  • Mister Manipur 2019 #3 : Gallery
  • Day 1 : Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • Piulong Valley, Tamenglong #1: Gallery
  • Aerial- Imp to Tamenglong: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Nupi Lan Ningsing Lamjel #2: Gallery
  • Nupi Lan Day (State): Gallery
  • Brahmacharimayum Mahendra : Silpbhusan
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View