Wedding rituals of the Ba Na

Wedding rituals and marriage are important in the life of the Ba Na. Although the Ba Na wedding rituals have varied at different times and in different regions, some traditional features have been preserved until today.

The Ba Na, also called Bana, Bahnar live mainly in Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen province. They have maintained the original features of their wedding ceremony. Young adults are allowed to choose their partner without consulting with their parents. An ideal wife should be a skilled weaver, while a perfect husband should be honest, strong, and a good hunter.

Community festivals are venues for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other. When a boy and a girl fall in love, they sit in the Rong house drinking wine and talking. The Bana have a custom that the girl must prepare 100 bundles of wood for a dowry. Bana girls begin collecting wood at the age of 14 or 15.

Before the wedding ceremony, the couple has to carry out a number of compulsory rituals. The boy and girl inform their parents of their marriage decision. The boy’s family will ask a matchmaker to represent them to invite the girl’s family to the boy’s home for a “bracelet exchanging ceremony”. The boy will give the girl a silver bracelet and the girl will give the boy a bronze bracelet. After this ceremony, the boy and the girl are not allowed to have a love affair with any others.

The wedding ceremony is usually held at the end of the year, when people have leisure after the harvest, full baskets of rice, and lots of cattle and poultry. The wedding is organized on a full moon day at the Rong house. The groom’s family prepares a jar of alcohol and a rooster for the ritual.

After the ceremony in the Rong house, the two families organize a party for the whole village. The parents invite the villagers to drink wine and thank them for coming to share the family’s happiness.

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