A strange baptism among the Wa

 

In most of the Wa communities, young people enjoy sexual freedom before marriage. As a rule, when the girls reach their age, they leave their parents' home, moving to a "girls' house" where they will spend some years until the moment they get married.

At evening, when the day becomes dark, single young boys gather in groups, and they go to the girls' house singing and dancing. The Wa people has not a gender division of works, so young people usually knows each other quite well. As they began to develop amorous feelings to the couple they chose, they like to express them combing the hair of his lover.

They think that by combing the lover's hair they will get the power to retain his love forever. For the Wa people, in fact, the head is the most important part of the body, before 1949, they make hunting expeditions to get heads for use in their religious ceremonies.

This romantic way of express their love combing of lover's hair, has its origin in a popular legend that depicts a kind of baptism ceremony that will sound familiar to the people that know the Bible's histories.

According to one of their myths related by Wei Deming (1), many, many years ago, when the human beings give their first steps on the earth, the people were born just as babies, and even growing old they do not change as human beings. They can not talk, can not see, and can not hear. One day, Yenamu, one of the female ancestors of the Wa, lead the people to a river, where they bathed and washed their heads. Then the people opened their eyes to see, and their ears to hear. It was as if the ancestor had wakened up the sleeping soul of the human beings. In this myth is also the origin of the cult for the heads between the Wa people.

This scene of the Wa primitive baptism, looks similar in many ways to those performed by Jesus in Jordan River.

(1) Wei Deming:- Wa zu wenhua shi (History of the culture of the Wa). Yunnan minzu chubanshi (Yunnan Nationalities Press)

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