By Elaine Kim
Northwest Asian Weekly
Bachelor and bachelorette parties are becoming a common part of American weddings. They are meant to celebrate the last day of singlehood. Some people spend this day with family and friends. Others throw big parties that have scandalous elements.
No matter what form the party takes, the ultimate goal is to celebrate a bride or groom’s last moments as a bachelorette or a bachelor. It can be a bittersweet celebration, filled with both tears and laughter, or it can be a purely joyous occasion. This celebration not only exists in the American culture, but also in Asian cultures as well.
China’s Cock Loft party
The traditional Chinese wedding process involves a pre-wedding bridal ceremony very similar to an American bachelorette party. This gathering is referred to as ‘retreating to the cock loft.’ This traditional event takes place before the bride is sent away from her family and hometown.
According to Chinese tradition, the bride hosts an extended sleep over party with her closest friends. The bride and her friends go to a secluded part of the bride’s house. The bride and her friends spend these days singing songs, mourning, laughing, and gossiping about the groom’s family. Most importantly, it is a time for the bride to fully rest and say goodbye to her hometown.
Similar aspects of the cock loft ceremony and the American bachelorette party are found in Indian culture. The Mehndi ceremony usually occurs the day before the wedding at the bride’s house, where female relatives and friends would flock to.
At this party, relatives apply turmeric paste, an herb, on the bride to brighten up her complexion. A relative applies henna, a traditional body art, on the bride’s hands and feet. Then they wait for the Baraat, a small parade held by the groom.
When the Baraat arrives, the groom shares drinks with his bride’s brother. Playful pranks are exchanged between the two families. The Mehndi ceremony is very much like a family festival, where the bride’s family celebrates the bride’s new life.
Philippines’ Despedida de Soltera
Despedida de Soltera, which literally means “goodbye to spinsterhood,” is a Filipino party that celebrates the bride. Her family hosts this party to honor the bride and to bless her wedding. The key difference is that the party also involves the groom and his family.
This event serves both as a send-off party and an opportunity for both families to mingle. This event can be as casual as having tea and sandwiches, or it can consist of a formal dinner.
This helps the families in transitioning to their new situations.
Thailand’s soon-to-be newlyweds pay homage.
Unlike the previous examples, the traditional Buddhist Thai pre-wedding ceremony is more ritual-based. The evening before the wedding, the bride and the groom, wearing ordinary clothes, go to pay homage to the bride’s ancestors. They invite nine monks to accompany them on this Buddhism ceremony.
Morocco’s brides’ bathing ceremony
Some Middle Eastern cultures have similar forms of bachelorette parties. In Morocco, the bride is accompanied by her close relatives to take a five-day bath.
As the bride and her family walk to the bathhouse, dancers and musicians parade around them. Egyptian brides also partake in a cleansing bath prior to their wedding. Their water is drawn from the Nile River.
The Middle Eastern pre-wedding traditions heavily focus on purifying the bride.
The concept of the bachelorette party exists in several different traditional Asian and Middle Eastern weddings. The Asian gatherings may appear completely different compared to the more familiar American parties. However, these gatherings work to celebrate the last days of singlehood, and welcome the bride and groom’s new life. ♦
Elaine Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.