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Mar 19, 2011

இ Hair Combing Ceremony 上頭

Image courtesy of Uncyclopedia.wikia.com
Traditionally an auspicious time will be chosen to perform the Hair Raising Combing Ceremony 上頭 [ shàngtou, pinyin, lit. 'Up Head'], a ritual conducted at the residence of the bride and the groom respectively which is normally scheduled closed to mid-night on the eve of the wedding day. Before the ritual begins, both the bride and groom should bath with water infused with pomelo leaves (Chinese believed that pomelo leaves will cleanse the body and ward off evil spirit) and put on brand new underwear and pajamas. In response to [SK] post Bananaz has commented that its once in a lifetime affair which is sort of mandatory in the past (not too sure about the latest Y Generation) for the newly weds wearing pajamas or pyjamas. The bride will usually dress in pink or red pajama (red is the lucky color for festive occasions, especially for Chinese). The head of both bride and groom will be comb three times by their parents both holding the comb together reciting positive words with auspicious meaning during each stroke.

video
Video courtesy of www.shaolin.org


Hair Combing Ceremony with the three auspicious strokes as below:

1. 一梳梳到尾 ~ yī shū shū dào wěi (Pinyin) / yat1 so1 so1 dou3 mei5 (Cantonese)
lit. First comb to comb until the end [meaning ever lasting love].

2. 二梳梳到白发齐眉 ~ èr shū shū dào bái fà qí méi (Pinyin) / yi6 so1 so1 dou3 baak6 faat3 chai4 mei4 (Cantonese)
lit. Second comb to comb till until white hair all equal [meaning to bring love and respect till old age].

3. 三梳梳到兒孫满堂 ~ sān shū shū dào ér sūn mǎn táng (Pinyin) / saam1 so1 so1 dou3 ngai4 syun1 mun5 tong5 (Cantonese)
lit. Third comb to wish for lots of children and grandchildren.

This whole Hair Combing Ceremony symbolizes the coming-of-age of the bride and the groom thus claiming them man and woman and no longer boy and girl. This would explain why most Chinese parents only consider their children grown ups when they get married.

Mummythree 林峰山
In almost all Chinese wedding ceremony there is one outstanding and conspicuous figure besides the bride and groom. Guess who? Its none other than the 'wedding organiser' better known as 大妗姐 daai6 kam5 je2 (Cantonese) who would usually the wife of the mother's brother taking up the role back in the ancient days. But as time goes by it became a highly professional job which requires the gift of the gab and well versed with rhyming poems.

All along for many generations the job has been dominated by only women but of late during the last wedding function Bananaz was struck with an overwhelming shocking amazement to discover the 大妗姐 is actually a "He" whom we addressed in Cantonese as 大妗爷 daai6 kam5 ye4 (grandpa wedding organiser). Phew! My goodness it was beyond my wildest dream for men to have a break through into this profession and not only that they are doing pretty well gaining popularity with bookings one year ahead. For those who are planning their wedding soon or curious to know what a man is doing in a woman's world can check this out at Mummythree. Heard his professional fees is not going cheap for he can sing, dance, do magic shows and more like an entertainer. He is positioning himself with his very own trade mark donning his 'uniform' in a typical ancient colorful 大妗姐 attire with head gear and red Chinese wooden clogs. Looks kinda cool.

EM Banana with whip

73 Bunchesஇ:

Twilight said...

Sigh! I also met one male one as I had blogged and he also could sing and dance so well on stage! His fee was a bomb of course!

Tekkaus said...

Well...don't need the male singer lar. Why don't us sing on our own. :)

[SK] said...

no idea on the ritual to wear brand new pyjamas for the hair-combing ceremony, but i guess that could mean a new life coming-to-age.. and you didn't mention the one who combs the hair of the bride or groom, must be somebody who is old enough and preferably with lots of children..

[SK] said...

well, i think the 大妗姐 or 大妗爷 is everything and every role in the wedding ceremony, haha!! and i guess perhaps they do so much that they need to be paid a lot, and also chinese believe it's always a must to pay them good in order to have them make the whole event comes with all good sign.. and now they even have to be the performer on stage with all necessary props, singing the pop songs to entertain every guests.. not easy at all..

Regina said...

I found this really intereting..probably wouldn't have known. We are so complex (combing hair takes on new meaning) and yet, I can see all of this would just make this ceremony even more special. The Pomelo..I have one if it's the same (large type of grapefruit) with the most fragrant blossoms? I had no idea..also about the entertainment aspect!I liked the photo and video- thanks-

suituapui said...

Never had this before. Heard it's a Peranakan custom. Must bookmark this - may come in handy one day...when my daughter gets married. LOL!!!

Yvonne said...

Bananaz is doing some fine research on the ritual for 'wedding-eve' including daai kam je. Is bananaz's big day around the corner?! XD XD

I've heard of those but during my wedding day, I didn't practise them... so called Y-generation, haha~

Alice Law said...

Wah, you are even kind enough to introduce 大妗姐 to us!! So nice of you, you know these days is ridiculously hard to find a good one!

Enjoy your weekend!

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Fascinating - seems ancient 'coz people hardly practise these unless they really want to keep traditions alive.

Caroline Ng May Ling said...

yesh yesh yesh! i know this one too! :D some of my frens actually make fun of this ceremony. lol

My Stories

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...

Old tradition dies hard & hard to die ~ to preserve for future generation?

Mei Teng said...

I see the hair combing ritual performed as the bride gets ready for her groom. Seen it on tv. So far have never witnessed this ceremony in real life.

Bananazஇ said...

Twilight இ Oh really you have blogged about the male daai kam ye I must have missed it.

Tekkaus இ Singing is secondary we still need some professionals to lead the wedding procedures else sure kelam kabut unless its a Church wedding then would be quite simplified.

[SK] இ In the absence of the parents some senior next of kin would do the hair combing I guess. The daai kam je are real pro nowadays.

Bananazஇ said...

Regina இ Yeah the pomelo sort of like grapefruit with a size of a bowling ball. Chinese tradition and customs have revolutionized as years go by.

suituapui இ Ho ho ho so proactive, starting to get preparation for Melissa already.

Yvonne இ Yeah lor Bananaz is getting ready and saving day by day for the big day so that enough to pay the 大妗爷 haha.

Bananazஇ said...

Alice Law இ Love to share. You have a great weekend too.

Keats The Sunshine Girl இ Time is changing and Chinese tradition is getting diluted.

Caroline Ng May Ling இ You had a hair raising experience watching the combing haha.

Bananazஇ said...

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE இ New generation new thinking guess in future no need any tea drinking or hair combing ceremony anymore haha.

Mei Teng இ Quite common you see this on TV especially those ancient movies. Hope one day you will be able to witness the ceremony at your friends wedding eve when they invite you for photo shooting.

wenn said...

I had that ceremony but didn't bothered about the reasons behind.

Small Kucing said...

too much ritual.

Ai Shiang said...

Do people these days still do this hair combing ritual?

Casendra said...

Hmnm, given a choice, I would hv just omitted all these rituals especially the 'dai kam zie', way too troublesome... but I definitely won't against other's to do so, still, it is our tradition mah right? Good to see it is still passing down to the next generation...

Lily Riani said...

i heard of this custom since school days but none ever or MANAGE to tell a details story. now i can boast that i know more and better.... no! how to memorize the 3 combs to support my new found knowledge. ehheh...

Lrong said...

Greetings from Japan... thanks for coming by my blog to offer words of solace with regards to the earthquake... appreciate it very much...

Bananazஇ said...

wenn இ Oh you were too excited on your wedding eve to take notice of the hair raising ceremony..haha.

Small Kucing இ Chinese traditions come with rituals and ceremonies.

Ai Shiang இ Depends on individual families. Most likely Christians and those parents who are no longer around. First need to pray to 'Ti Kong' and ancestors and secondly the parents are required to hold the comb. Alternative any senior next of kin can replace the parents. Guess some of the Gen Y may opt out this ceremony.

Bananazஇ said...

Casendra இ Yeah that depends on individual like my earlier comment to Ai Shiang different families would have their own priorities.

Lily Riani இ Glad could throw some light to you. On remembering the three combing words leave it to the 大妗姐 haha. Think it is quite easy in memorizing them.

Lrong இ Glad you arrived Japan in one piece other than the jet lag, anxieties and the constipation. Lucky you got rid of the constipation after battling with it a huge challenge at the 'throne' all day long haha. Take care tQ sama sama.

Ever Green Tree said...

Interesting read on the Chinese pre-wedding tradition. Have great wk ahead n Thx a ton for stopping by.

Autumn Belle said...

My dad told me that we believe that the hair combing ceremony is done to signify a coming of age for the bride and groom because after this ceremony, it is hoped that he/she can live on his/her independently without being dependant on parents for emotional and financial support. This is what every parent hope for in a child. Now, it is preferable that the person who combs the bride/grooms hair is someone who has a happy married life with sons and daughters. It is hoped that this person will transfer his good 'man-luck' to the bride/groom. Therefore, old couples who are still married and who have sons as well as daughters are sought after. They will be able to transfer the good luck of 'pak tow to lo' - together as a couple till old age, and 'yee suen mun tei - having lots of children and grand children. After, newly weds would certainly wish for such blessings.

The male tai kam je - very interesting, wow, first time I hear this! But you are right, better to get a tai kam je who knows the dialect's customs than one who can sing well. The best singer is definitely the groom who can compose and sing for his bride. Isn't this more romantic?

Autumn Belle said...

Regarding the pyjamas attire, in the old days, they wear pure white to signify being a virgin. Due to the change of the times, the pyjamas colour can be other colours.

Some customs call for eating tang yuen (glutinuous rice balls) which is swallowed whole during the hair combing ceremony. After this ceremony, the bride and groom cannot meet face-to-face until the next day when groom comes to take his bride. This is to avoid future bad luck/tragedy for the newly weds. Maybe because many people do not know the customs well, they choosed not to follow. It is good to have people blog about these customs so that the future generations are kept informed. We are also begining to learn more about our my roots/customs/traditions again.

Bananazஇ said...

Ever Green Tree இ You have a great day too maybe you can also post something for us to understand the Indian customs on weddings maybe can start of with the flowers used. Often see the ladies are full of nicely painted designs on both hands and fingers during weddings.

Autumn Belle இ Thanks for adding more interesting info on our Chinese tradition and customs. Agree younger generations don't follow that closely due to diversification of religious beliefs and priorities.

foongpc said...

I think nowadays the bride and bridegroom do not dress up in pajamas anymore.

foongpc said...

So Bananaz, here is a golden opportunity for you to go into the 大妗爷 line. Hahaha!!!

Life Ramblings said...

this is unbelievable. i haven't come across a male tai kam cheh before. i guess anything is possible these days.

Pete said...

Comb which hair? ha ha ha!

Bananazஇ said...

foongpc இ Wore the one and only one pajamas once on the wedding eve that's it. Yeah Bananaz be the 大妗爷 and you be my first customer haha.

Life Ramblings இ Yeah just like you was stunned when I first came to know it.

Pete இ Witch's hair no need to comb one..haha

HappySurfer said...

What I understand is that this hair-combing ritual is not compulsory. Many people these days do not go thru it because precision in timing is critical so as not to have adverse effects.

As SK and Autumn Belle mentioned, in the absence of a parent, someone who qualifies would need to be non-widowed and have children with the belief that they can pass on the good vibes to the bride or groom.

Good that tradition is being kept alive and now equal opportunity for the other gender - for a change! Great post, Bananaz. Thanks for sharing.

Wai Kitt said...

I didn't have this hair combing ceremony during my wed day. The reason was i am Buddha and my husband is Christian!

JamieDedes said...

That's so interesting, Bonanaz. There's always something new to learn here. As time goes on and lifestyles change, some of these gentle old ways can become cumbersome, however charming they may be. It's rather sad.

HappySurfer said...

The sad part is that some of the traditions have been taken to be religious rites when in fact, they are not.

I know some (Chinese) people who don't celebrate Chinese New Year just because they are Christians. They only celebrate Christmas. Huh? Isn't CNY for the Chinese community regardless of religious alignment? Go figure..

mNhL said...

nowadays, modern already. I did not witness these kind of ceremony through out my life. Only saw them from the TV. haha....

Faisal Admar said...

wow! this is new to me.

hehe if i have the opportunity i will surely fall asleep.

i got this syndrome of fall asleep when someone touch my hair :P

lina said...

What an interesting ritual. :)

lina said...

You going to do this ritual in the near future ah? ;p

MKL said...

Chinese (and Taiwanese) wedding is very complicated to an angmoh... I hope I survive it x_x

jam said...

I don't think the hair combing ceremony is mandatory for today's generation. At least we did not practice it.

Bengbeng said...

yes, we still practice this hair combing thingy. all my sisters did.. even as late as last when a niece got married.

Bananazஇ said...

HappySurfer இ Quite subjective to individuals as time goes by like you said religious interference. Me too often get confused when people treat tradition as religious matters. So at times I wonder do Christians celebrate mid-autumn festival not in terms of praying with incense but giving them moon cakes as gift? Heard some Christian friends would not eat/touch anything that has dragon pixz etc.

Wai Kitt இ Its optional and depends on the families. Combing of the hair symbolises the person is now a grown up person and no connection with praying.

mNhL இ Yes normally you may not accompany the bride right up to mid-night.

Bananazஇ said...

JamieDedes இ learning new things is a day to day process. Time has changed the young would love a much shorter way and do away with all these old tradition.

Faisal Admar இ now we know your weak point just like Samson haha..

lina இ this tradition is still on going but usually not by Chinese embracing Christian faith as it may require to use incense in the prayers to the ancestors. Shall pass this on to my daughter.

Bananazஇ said...

MKL இ Right would see how you can survive the bowing and kneeling haha. Perhaps would request you do a full write up on your 'Chinese' or should say 'Taiwanese' wedding right up from sending the biscuit gifts until the tea drinking wedding ceremony etc.

jam இ You escaped! Must be coming from a very modern family.

Bengbeng இ You family side very traditional keeping up with the rituals. Great!.

EastCoastLife said...

Traditional rituals are so interesting and sometimes fun. I am still traditional at heart. :)

Wenny Yap said...

I've heard and seen this rituals couple of times but not being the traditional kind, never went through it prior to my wedding. Would be a lifetime experience.

Bananazஇ said...

EastCoastLife இ Whoa you love the traditions coz many was sort of felt uneasy.

Wenny Yap இ You missed the hair raising moments haha..

Jean said...

what i always hear is only shu shu shu dunno what lol

have a nice day! =)

willie a.k.a reptoz said...

O...now i know about Chinese wedding.

Bananazஇ said...

Jean இ shu shu shu could be hair raising...lolz

willie a.k.a reptoz இ Great!

Alice Phua said...

I only heard about this hair combing ritual a few days before my wedding, but in the end, never practised it.

By the way, the 'daai kam je', in my own term, I call it as "wedding emcee"! Hehehehe.....

Bananazஇ said...

Alice Phua இ They talked about it before your wedding but didnt get that done. Think that would depend on individual families. Just like those olden days the Hokkiens require to tie a whole sugar cane plant inside the wedding car. The idea was slowing dropped due to the heat in Malaysia where the groom wears a coat and the bride's mark-up and hairdo are at risk due to heat and wind. "Wedding emcee" sounded quite good tQ.

lena said...

they even have courses for those who are interested to become 大妗姐,must be really good pay and high demand for these 大妗姐!

Daniel said...

Quite worthwhile piece of writing, thanks for the article.
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This is about getting married. This side make it look like the marriages going to end soon with the bomb charges involved due to low self-esteem worry too much against the Gods.

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