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Wedding Songs



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Ding Dong

Jin Ye, 23, sings all the time. She sings to her children, she sings while tending the small vegetable path behind her house, and singing was a crucial ingredient in the romantic 5-year courtship with her husband. In the mountains of southern China, home to the ethnic Dong community, people communicate largely in song.

Jin Ye tells the story she remembers her parents (1)

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(tell)
her as a child about a young man called Jing Bi (Golden Coin) who introduced songs to the people. 'One day he decided (2)
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(go)
on a long walk. He walked so far that he reached the Kingdom of Heaven. The gates were opened and he saw some young girls who were singing and dancing marvelously. He stayed for seven days and nights and managed (3)
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(learn)
the songs by heart. Then, when he returned home, he tried (4)
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(teach)
his people what he knew. Songs have been important to us ever since.

'Here, ' says Jin Ye, 'we love (5)

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(sing)
and dance. We enjoy (6)
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(sing)
alone or accompanied by a violin. By singing love songs, we fall in love.' Singing plays such an important part of life that married couples are not allowed (7)
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(live)
together until their families rule that their voices are in perfect harmony. Only then can they hope (8)
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(have)
a long and happy union. Jin Ye and her husband lived apart for five years, meeting each day to sing 'separation' songs until their songs were compatible. 'Song stirs the soul,' says Jin Ye. 'When our voices harmonise well, it proves we will get along.' There is even a Dong proverb 'Whoever cannot sing cannot expect (9)
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(marry)
.' Jin Ye laughs as she talks about her husband's singing.

'The first time my husband offered (10)

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(marry)
me I thought he sang really badly. My boyfriend was much better.'

Although some young people do now marry by mutual consent, even independent-minded girls like Jin Ye will agree (11)
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(abide)
by the decision of their elders. ' Every parent wishes an easier life for their children, which is why I listen to them. It was love at first sight with my boyfriend we met at the evening singing meetings but he came from a poor family and my parents wouldn't accept him so I couldn't continue (12)
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(see)
him. They preferred (13)
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(choose)
the man who is now my husband.' Jin Ye doesn't regret (14)
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(marry)
her husband and sees no conflict between the freedom girls enjoy before marriage, when they are allowed (15)
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(have)
different boyfriends, and having a husband chosen for them. 'Love and marriage are two different things,' she says. Some couples rarely see each other after their marriage, either because they live a long way apart or, quite simply, because they are not in love. Divorce is rare, but is accepted if a marriage fails. Jin Ye's best friend, Lien Hua, managed (16)
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(divorce)
her husband to marry the man she loved, but it was difficult and expensive. 'She married a man from another village,' Jin Ye explains. 'As they only met rarely she started (17)
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(see)
her old lover. When her husband's family found out, they demanded that the liaison should end, but Lien Hua wanted a divorce. Her husband refused (18)
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(agree)
to the divorce at first, so they had to negotiate and Lien Hua's family had to hand back the entire dowry, and a prized buffalo.'

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