Forty people who lost their spouses in the May 12 earthquake last year will tie the knot at a group wedding on April 26 in southwest China's Sichuan Province, a local official said Tuesday.
"The 30-minute wedding service, which will be funded by the local government, will be held in accordance with the custom of the local Qiang ethnic group," said Wang Jian, a publicity official with the Beichuan County, which lost two-thirds of its population in the quake.
Wang said the couples would plant 20 trees at the ceremony to "extend their appreciation to the Communist Party of China, the government and the whole society for their caring."
Beichuan is the country's only Qiang Autonomous County.
"A gun salute will be included in the ceremony to express the Qiang people's hospitality and their blessings to the new couples," Wang said.
He said more than 100 couples had filed applications for the group wedding, but many retracted them after having second thoughts.
"Many are reluctant to make a public appearance or their parents are against it," Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2009)