Don’t make marriage a playground for unbridled hazing
The wedding day is supposed to encapsulate one of the best moments of one’s life, but for a hapless bridegroom in southern China, his big day was reduced to a tragic farce due to hazing, a traditional Chinese ritual that has become controversial and needs to be controlled.
Ai is suing his wedding guests over the pranks that made him spend 15 days in hospital and face a huge insurance bill from a car accident.
While Ai was going to pick up the bride on the day of marriage in November, his friends tied him up to a telegraph pole and covered him in eggs, beer and ink.
Trying to flee, Ai ran down the motorway with his vision partly blocked by the ink and was knocked down by a BMW car. He was hospitalized with skull fracture and multiple injuries to the body. The car was severely damaged as the driver crashed into a guardrail while trying to avoid him.
The traffic police ruled that Ai was at fault and will have to pay for damages to the car. The groom decided to take legal action against the wedding guests in late December to cover the car’s repair bill of 30,000 yuan ($4370).
Legends about the tradition of wedding hazing abound. Some say that the rite dates back to a time when arranged marriages were commonplace, and the practice served as a way to relieve anxiety, expel “evil spirits” and introduce the newlyweds.
Another version says that the custom first appeared in northern China where people depended on hunting and grazing for livelihood and only men who could withstand the rigors of hazing were qualified to be husbands.
As a custom originally meant to foil the convivial atmosphere for fun, in recent years wedding hazing has become vulgar and insane, and spiraled out of control.
Just like Ai, a number of grooms were injured after enduring wedding day pranks. Worse still, brides and their maids are also the targets.
It was reported that a bride in Shandong Province was so badly teased and ridiculed by wedding guests that she committed suicide a few days into the marriage. In 2013, a 16-year-old bridesmaid was sexually harassed by more than a dozen guests in the name of hazing. The perpetrators were sentenced to one to three years in jail. These are of course extreme cases, but this evil practice in the guise of Chinese tradition deserves public attention. Behavior on public occasions such as weddings shows an individual’s character. Some wedding-day pranks violate not only moral codes, but even the law. Therefore, it is necessary to learn about noble traditions, social morality and legal provisions. Furthermore, as wedding hazing usually involves a group of people, the “crowd behavior” may lead to collective unconsciousness, that is, the people are prone to losing control of themselves and going overboard. Hence, in addition to people restraining themselves, there should be regulations issued by government departments to regulate such practice. The Ministry of Civil Affairs announced in December last year its intentions to crack down on lavish weddings and look into increasingly severe hazing rituals. But specific measures should be further advanced. For instance, the hazing which Ai suffered in the street amounts to disrupting social order and should be outrightly banned. After all, one’s wedding should be a collection of good memories instead of a playground of unbridled behavior.