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Monday, August 16, 2010

Introduction to Chinese Ghost Marriages

A Chinese spirit marriage is a complex part of traditional culture

A Chinese ghost marriage (also called a "spirit marriage") is a fascinating tradition in which the husband, the wife, or both are no longer living.

Why are there Ghost Marriages for Women?
The question of why Chinese ghost marriages exist is a complex one with many reasons. One reason for the existence of Chinese ghost marriages exist is to fulfill a previously agreed to marriage contract. If a bride’s fiancé dies before the marriage, the option exists to carry out a ghost marriage in place of a real one. In this situation, the bride has all the normal obligations of marriage: she moves into her husband’s home, participates in a funeral ritual and mourning period for her deceased husband, and vows to remain loyal to him (that is to say, celibate).

Why are there Ghost Marriages for Men?
Men that die before they are married are often given ghost marriages as well, either to living or deceased brides. This is to allow the man to have a socially accepted heir and legitimately carry on his family name. A male offspring of a male family member is often adopted as the deceased man’s son, thus ensuring the family line continues.

Ghost Marriages for Two Dead Spouses
In many ghost marriages, both of the spouses are already deceased and the marriage ceremony is carried out in absence of their physical selves. In some cases, family members claim to be alerted to the desires of deceased unmarried relatives, either through a spirit medium or some other supernatural means. According to this tradition, lonely, unmarried spirits make their marriage intentions known and ask their living relatives to carry out their wishes.

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