Vibrant Rural Revitalization Behind Sweet Ethnic Tajik Wedding

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Marmathan Tirmur helps his bride Gulihan Zangabili arrange ornaments on her hands at their new home in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, March 20, 2023.(Xinhua/Hu Huhu)

“Happy wedding!” A rousing cheer burst out at a distinctive wedding ceremony featuring ethnic Tajik traditions, where Gulihan Zangabili and her better half tied the knot.

Lasting for three days, the vibrant and joyful event at Fumin Village brought vigor and happiness to the villagers living on the Pamir Plateau, in the far west of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

For the 25-year-old ethnic Tajik bride and her groom Marmathan Tirmur, having fallen in love more than three years ago, a traditional wedding ceremony was at the top of their to-do list.

“Now our standards of living allow us to choose many ways to perform our wedding, but we still prefer to do so with such a traditional ceremony,” said the groom.

Inscribed on the national intangible cultural heritage list in 2008, the wedding customs of the Tajik ethnic group maintain unique traditions and are always described as festivals of music, dance and food to showcase the resplendent newlyweds and their propitious marriage.

Last month, without a hair out of place, Gulihan Zangabili, dressed head to toe in traditional costume and adorned in a red and white veil, married Marmathan Tirmur, describing the wedding as a dream realized.

During the wedding, the traditional costume-clad groom had his face painted with traditional facial makeup and adorned with over sixty white dots, symbolizing good luck.

Throughout the wedding festivities, the couple’s loved ones congregated from nearby villages to join in the celebration. Some of them played traditional Tajik musical instruments, such as the eagle flute and tambourine, and performed inspiring festive dances, while others lent their hands to prepare local specialties, including naan bread and pilaf.

Furthermore, the event’s long-lasting atmosphere of joy, harmony and warmth, which fills every moment and leaves every participant thoroughly immersed and captivated, draws not only locals but also tourists from across the country to the small village, to share joy and happiness together.

“The wedding is really special and lively, and we are lucky to see such an impressive ethnic wedding in Xinjiang,” said a tourist surnamed Huang, from Beijing, dazzled by the splendid ceremony.

However, Sultanbagim Yiblayim, 61, Gulihan Zangabili’s mother-in-law, could never imagine the booming popularity of their traditions and ballooning tourism. “When I got married, it took me about seven days to get to my husband’s house in another village on horseback. This seems inconceivable today.”

Nowadays, automobiles have replaced horses as the most common means of transportation for the villagers. The road network between the villages and the counties is also well-appointed, and it takes less than 20 minutes to drive from Fumin Village to the county seat of Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County.

A relative applies makeup around the eyes of the groom Marmathan Tirmur before the wedding in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, March 19, 2023.(Xinhua/Hu Huhu)

While enjoying the convenience of modern life, ethnic Tajik people also choose to stick to some traditions. Gulihan Zangabili’s family bought a brand-new washing machine and a refrigerator for the couple as wedding gifts, along with handmade embroidery works, decorated with patterns such as fire and sun, which represent ethnic Tajik people’s love for nature.

According to the data of the local rural revitalization bureau, the local government in 2017 started to implement the Tatikuli relocation project, helping more than 1,400 farmers and herdsmen in five townships of the county to move into new houses near the county seat from remote mountainous areas.

“Because of the continuous progress of rural revitalization work, the quality of life of the villagers has been greatly improved compared with before,” said Elken Yusain, head of the bureau.

Brimming with bliss, Marmathan Tirmur told Xinhua that because of the opportunity created by this project, his wife moved from her birthplace, a small and remote village in the mountains, to Fumin Village in 2018, and that’s when the two met each other. “Thanks to the relocation policy, we were given more opportunities than we would have had otherwise,” he said.

“If it weren’t for relocation, it would have been very difficult for the couple to meet, let alone make such a good marriage,” said Zangabili Mainik, the bride’s father.

Source: anhuinews