Love among the Dong

 

In each Dong village there are a series of public houses where young people meet each night, particularly during times of less agricultural activity. The girls usually arrive at those houses in the evening where, while chatting and embroidering their fabrics, they wait for the boys.

When they begin to sing it is a sign for the boys, who reply in kind. The boys are usually not from their same village. Most of the young Dong organize themselves into groups that go out to the neighboring villages in the evening.

Boys and girls begin a series of antiphonal songs with romantic themes by means of which the boys try to gain access to the house where the girls are. Once inside the doors, the courting continues among them, always with the help of songs. First the men sing and the women follow them. But little by little they form couples that continue to sing together until dawn. Through these songs they express their feelings, the man letting the loved one know his hope to win her trust and become more intimate.

In some areas the couples sing in shifts, showing their friends that love has been born. This love is consolidated slowly through the exchange of small gifts, a sign of their commitment. The lovers sometimes meet in the forest, but only during the day. At night they say they are afraid of wild animals.

Once the man has won the woman's love, it is still necessary to obtain the permission of the parents. To accomplish this, the boy usually requests a relative to speak with the girl's parents and settle the preparations for the wedding. Although the parents have the last word regarding the wedding, numerous legends of unhappy loves due to the intervention of the parents prevent them from insisting too much in their preferences.

Besides, the lovers always have the additional resort of marrying secretly, and then ask the relatives to forgive them afterwards.

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