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A wacky solution to infidelity

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th September 2010 03:00 AM

THIS is a special announcement: I am writing a book about how to stop infidelity in marriage. And this should be good news for pastors, who glorify overnight praise at the expense of marital agendas. I have already gone a long way and by the end of this week, I will have successfully completed the f

THIS is a special announcement: I am writing a book about how to stop infidelity in marriage. And this should be good news for pastors, who glorify overnight praise at the expense of marital agendas. I have already gone a long way and by the end of this week, I will have successfully completed the first sentence.

From my versatile research, I came across a country known as Vietnam. For all and sundry, Vietnam is a country that defeated the US in the 1945-1975 war but that is not my topic. Vietnam has the lowest divorce rates in the world! According to a marriage facts website, only one divorce for every 10,000 persons was registered in 2004!

So, I scanned the Vietnamese for solutions and you can’t believe it. I will just talk about one which will come under the topic; Fighting Fire with Fire, in my book!

According to their legend, it began once upon a time, when an ethnic Giay girl fell in love with an ethnic Nung boy from the neigbouring province. She was so beautiful that her tribe, Giay couldn’t allow their treasure to marry a man from another tribe (Nung). At that time, such a decision was similar to the NRM election process and hence, a bloody conflict ensued between the two tribes.

Watching tragedy unfold before them, the two lovers met and sorrowfully decided to part ways to avoid further bloodshed and to restore peace. But to keep their love alive they made a secret pact to meet once a year on the 27th day of the third lunar month in Khau Vai, a village in the hills of northern Vietnam, close to the border with China. Thereafter, the hill village became known as a meeting place for all of those whose love did not end in marriage.

Well, this legend may be as debatable as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but that is not my problem. My issue is that it gave birth to an annual pilgrimage for ex-lovers among the rural hill tribes of Giay, Nung, Tay, Dzao, San Chi, Lo Lo and Hmong. These villages are found in the mountainous corner of northern Vietnam where marriages never go sour.

I almost forgot to warn you that although this treasured tradition partly explains their low levels of divorce, it may challenge some more linear concepts of love you may possess. But I will still talk about it because I need to avoid the topic of NRM elections.

Up to this day, married Vietnamese in this region take leave of their marriages once a year and travel to Khau Vai in Ha Giang province to meet their former lovers. In the Nung language, Khau Vai means ‘clouds among the mountains’.

For two days each year, on the 26th and 27th of the third month of the lunar calendar, pilgrims transform the village of Khau Vai into a love delegates congress. Spouses are required by tradition to release each other and trek to the congress to meet with a pre-arranged ex. Spouses are not supposed to travel together or to spy on each other. A partner who has no ex is expected to stay at home.

At Khau Vai, the exes meet after dark on the arrival day and are free to have a guilt-free tryst with each other as a symbolic stroll down the memory lane.

“It is simple. We meet our past lovers we couldn’t get married to and pour our hearts out about the time when we were in love,” Hua Thi Nghi was quoted as saying by sources. “We teach each other the new ways of love we have learnt from our marriages hoping to improve each others’ marriages after the meeting.”

Organisers hire local artistes to perform in colourful clothing with the epic presentation being the local myth telling the story of the origin of the Khau Vai love market.

This tradition is popular and carried on in spite of the modern edge. People make contacts with their ex-lovers by phone because pairing is now strictly by appointment. Government has developed the area for tourism and this village, some 500km away from Hanoi, the capital city, has one of the well developed infrastructure in the country.

Beware: It is a bit risky to try this in your own home. The idea comes with a muting side effect because when I suggested it to my wife, she did not talk for the following seven days. I still think marriage could do with some of this no-strings-attached pressure releases. But I am now too scared to suggest it again to her. I hope she doesn’t read my book.
hbainemigisha@newvision.co.ug

A wacky solution to infidelity

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