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10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan

The 'Austronesian Wedding: Wedding Under the Swing' is an annual celebration in Sandimen, Pingtung county

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A Japanese couple is wed as part of the annual "Austronesian Wedding" event held in Pingtung

A Japanese couple is wed as part of the annual "Austronesian Wedding" event held in Pingtung (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On March 17, ten couples were wed in Sandimen Township in Pingtung County, in a traditional wedding ceremony of the Paiwan people, one of Taiwan’s 16 indigenous ethnic groups.

The ten couples, including one couple from Japan, were wed according to religious practices of local Paiwan tribes with the blessings of the local community. The celebration included traditional games, a ritual swing set and songs as part of the day’s activities.

The celebration took place in Zhongshan Park, and was attended and presided over over by the magistrate of Pingtung, Pan Meng-an (潘孟安), the chief of the bridegrooms, Jian Qingfa (簡慶發), and the chief of Sandimen Township, Gui Xiaohui (歸曉慧).

The "Austronesian Wedding: Wedding Under the Swing" is an annual event, based on local customs of spring courtship and marriage. This year, six of the couples married were of local Paiwan ancestry.

Among the ten couples, two of the newlyweds are visitors from Japan. They chose to make their weddings vows in the manner of the Austronesian cultural ceremony. Television crews from three major Japanese networks were also in attendance to record the event.

The Japanese visitors, Yoshida Toshiaki (吉田俊明) and Ueno Natsumi (上野夏見) came to Taiwan last year, and made a visit to the Taiwan indigenous Culture Park in Majia Township. During their stay in Taiwan they were amazed by the variety and beauty of Taiwan’s indigenous people, including the beautiful ceremonial garments, and the captivating wedding ceremony involving the swing set.

After Yoshida proposed, the couple decided to try to join the Paiwan ceremony themselves.

10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan
(CNA Image)

Pingtung country magistrate Pan Meng-an has participated in the event for the past four years, and was happy that the foreign couple chose the occasion for their wedding. In the future, Pingtung will gladly welcome more foreign visitors to attend and even participate in the wedding event.

The traditional Paiwan wedding ritual involves a long, and often tedious series of events including a specific manner of proposal, presentation of gifts to the family of the groom, then the most iconic activity, which consists of the bride playing on a vertical swing set that is constructed for the ceremony.

10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan
(CNA Image)

Then there are still gifts to be given to the bride’s family and then finally, a more solemn betrothal ceremony takes place.

The event held in Pingtung yesterday is actually a bit faster than the ritual process would have taken in the past, since the event is organized as a modern day of mass weddings and celebration for the community.

According to reports from Taiwan Hot, in the 14 years that the "Austronesian Wedding" event has been held, this is the first year that two foreigners have applied to be wed according to the customs of Taiwan's indigenous people.

Now the local community is hoping that more visitors will join the ceremony in the future. Local government has been investing more into local cultural heritage sites in recent years with the aim of attracting more tourists to the area.

The possibility of a traditional Paiwan wedding ceremony may also be an attractive option for guests in the future.

10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan
(CNA Image)
10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan
(CNA Image)
10 couples, one from Japan, tie the knot in Paiwan marriage ceremony in southern Taiwan
(CNA Image)