Wedding season is here. Be it a friend or colleague, you might have received an invitation to one of them too. It can be a love marriage or an arranged one, a day wedding or a night event. A small one or a big one. But have you heard of a one-of-a-kind wedding — known as ghost wedding? Do you know that in China, there is an ancient tradition of ghost weddings, which is still prevalent in the country?
The custom of marrying ghosts dates back 3,000 years. The purpose of the tradition is to find a partner for a deceased person. Some elderly Chinese still believe that if people die without fulfilling their wishes, including getting married, they will not rest in peace and will return to haunt others.
The ritual involved in a ghost marriage is similar to those of a standard arranged marriage for the living. The parents seek a suitable match for their dead children, by hiring a matchmaker or by word of mouth. Then they ask about the other family, the potential spouse’s occupation, age and a photo to make sure he is a match. Then the families host a wedding ceremony, dig up the corpses, and bury them together in a new grave.
According to the South China Morning Post, the practice was banned as far back as imperial times, but many people continued the practice in secrecy, surviving records show. In current times, the practice has been banned again by the Chinese Communist government in 1949 but it continues to persist in remote villages, especially in northern China.
The tradition also has a darker side to it. According to BBC News, for years there have been reports where a living person has been married to a corpse in a secret ritual, grave robbery and even murder. In 2015, it was reported that 14 female corpses were stolen in a village in Shanxi province.
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