As one of the smallest ethnic minority in Gansu Province, the Bonan Ethnic Group has cultural similarity with Hui ethnic minority. But they also have own courtship and marriage rituals, and their wedding ceremony usually begins on a Sunday morning according to Bonan calendar.
According to their marriage rituals and traditions, the groom should come to the bride’s house and pay his respects to the bride’s elders. It is the bride’s father who announces the start of the wedding ceremony. At first, the guests have to watch the wedding through the window outside. After the Imam chants the Alcoran and showers a plateful of red dates and walnuts to the guests, the bride’s family invites guests to sit on the top of the kang( a kind of heatable brick bed). For Bonan ethnic group, red dates and walnuts symbolize happiness and showering them is a good way to give the blessings to the new couple.
There is a peculiar tradition during their wedding. When the guests walk into the bride’s house, a group of young neighbors appear and ask the groom’s family for “lamb money”. Usually, they will plaster the faces of bride’s family with black ash if they are dissatisfied with the amount of lamb money; however, People of Bonan ethnic minority consider this plastering black ash on faces as a way of giving congratulations.
When the wedding is in full swing, the bride has to leave for the groom’s house. Before leaving, she needs to retreat from the door of her room to the main gate by spreading backward a handful of five-color corn, including wheat, beans, maize, highland barley, and millet, mixed with jasmine tea leaves, as Bonan people think the grains of five colors suggest the blessing to the family of her parents.
As soon as the bride arrives at the groom’s house, the bride’s elder brother or other close relative need to carry the bride in his arms and try to enter the bridegroom’s house, as a group of young men from the groom’s village are waiting at a place near the groom’s house, trying to stop the bride to enter the house. If the young men cannot stop the bride, they will lose.
After the contest, all guests can sit and enjoy the dishes except the bride who refuses to dine in the groom’s house for three days. Local wedding tradition demands that she has to wait for the food her family sends her, as by doing this can express her gratitude to her parents and show the bride never forgets the love and kindness her parents lavished on her.