A city in eastern China has formally banned a notorious wedding tradition where guests are allowed to tease the new couple and their bridesmaids, after a series of incidents when the joke went too far.
The authorities in Zouping, a city in Shandong province, issued a notice on Wednesday specifically outlawing “vulgar behaviour at weddings” and calling for the “reform of wedding traditions”.
The tradition known as naohun has seen couples or their guests being forced to strip or being tied up, making them wear outrageous clothing or signs, insults being hurled at the bride and bridesmaids or people being forced to perform in an indecent manner.
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The government stressed that this behaviour would be punished by the police and could be considered a criminal offence.
“Let us all be more civil, boycott vulgar activities at weddings, turn ‘naohun’ into civilised blessings and help weddings go back to being warm and romantic,” the notice said.
The new policy has been widely applauded by the Chinese public.
“Of course you need to outlaw this behaviour, some people are simply harassing others in the name of playing jokes at a wedding,” said one in a post on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform.
“It was already difficult enough to organise a wedding, let alone being bothered by vulgar performances and jokes,” another said.
China “naohun”, which literally means “making disturbances at a wedding” has a long tradition dating back to the start of the Han dynasty in the second century BC.
Guests ask the newlyweds to perform a series of tasks to ensure a lively wedding atmosphere and to show friendship.
Wedding guests generally derive great pleasure from letting the bride and groom kiss or from making them do slightly embarrassing tasks. In modern-day weddings, it has also been extended to teasing bridesmaids.
Lately, however, the tradition has been the focus of heated discussions with more incidents seeming to go too far.
Critics have said such games are at least inappropriate and some could be considered harassment.
In 2016, Chinese actor Bao Beier and actress Bao Wenjing came under fire after a video clip of their wedding was leaked online, showing five men lifting up one of the bridesmaids, actress and host Liu Yan, and attempting to throw her into a pool.
Liu could be seen screaming and struggling, until another bridesmaid, comedian Jia Ling, came to her rescue and stopped the five men.
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