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Unique marriage custom of the Raglai

The Raglai are a matriarchal ethnic minority group who live in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. When a Raglai couple decides to get married, the girl’s family decides everything.

The main wedding ceremony of the Raglai is held at the bride's family. (Photo:

The main wedding ceremony of the Raglai is held at the bride's family. (Photo:


As in other matriarchal groups, women have a big role in the Raglai family and community. A bride’s family organizes all details of her wedding and the wedding ceremony is held at the bride’s house. 

“The girl’s family will prepare a big meal and a lot of wine to treat all the villagers. The husband will live with his wife’s family, and their children will take their mother’s family name,” says C’To Hoa, a local resident of Phuoc Binh commune.

According to the local custom, boys and girls are free to date. Mai Tham of Ma Oai village says they have the freedom to love and marry as they wish and parents don’t choose their child’s marriage partner.

While dating, a Raglai boy and girl are allowed to sleep together but not to have sex. (Photo:
While dating, a Raglai boy and girl are allowed to sleep together but not to have sex. (Photo:


When a young boy and a young girl begin to date, they are allowed to sleep together but not to have sex. If they violate this rule, they are severely punished. When a boy and a girl decide to marry, they inform their parents and ask for their approval. The boy’s family sends a matchmaker to the girl’s house to make a marriage proposal.  

“The matchmaker will choose a date to visit the girl’s family. The matchmaker and the people who go with him should be well-spoken and have a thorough knowledge of the group’s customs,” C’To Hoa reveals.

The boy goes with the matchmaker, bringing betel leaves, areca nuts, and a bottle of wine. If a proposal is accepted, the two families discuss their family situations and make preparations for the wedding ceremony.

The bride’s family declares the betrothal gifts they want. They also discuss what money the parents should give the young couple to start their own livelihood. 

According to T’Nang Trac, a local resident of Phuoc Thang commune, the Raglai’s custom is that the bridegroom lives with his wife’s family. Their parents give them cows or buffalos and land on which to develop their own production.

The main wedding ceremony is held at the bride’s house, attended by their relatives and all the villagers. VOV5

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