Cewang Sangbo and Cewang Lhamo, a young Tibetan couple who began their romance five years ago, were married recently at a holy marriage hall.
At their wedding ceremony, the bridegroom Sangbo smiled as he said that as a new generation Tibetan he had the freedom of choosing his partner. The days of arranged marriages and the shotgun weddings are gone.
In the past, parents' arranged the marriages of young Tibetans. Young couples did not know what their future spouse looked like until the wedding ceremony.
After their marriage, they often had to cope with vastly different personalities and life styles. Some marriages eventually broke up.
Zhaxi Doje, 75, a guest at the couple's wedding ceremony, looked very happy. In a quivering voice he wished the young couple happiness. In his mind his own marriage hangs over him like a black shadow.
His marriage was arranged by his parents. The bride, almost a stranger to him, turned out to be very pretty and he was considered fortunate at the wedding ceremony.
The marriage however proved to be a disaster. With different views on life, the couple quarreled every day and about everything.The rift between them widened as time went on. Finally, they divided their property and parted.
In sharp contrast, Sangbo and Lhamo know each other very well after a relationship of five years. At the wedding ceremony the bride, smiling shyly and moving close to her husband, told guests she and her husband had worked out a plan for future.
One of the guests asked her if children were in the "plan".
"Yes, but not for three years," Lhamo answered, " I am only 24 this year. I prefer to concentrate on my career over the next three years so that I can lay a sound economic foundation for my children and the great effort I have put into my extended education can be rewarded."
Lhamo in fact, is a typical example of today's young Tibetan women who receive a modern education and have new views on life and the world.
Nowadays, more educated women prefer to be career women than housewives.
Statistics show that in 2000, the birth rate among Tibetans dropped from the 16.1 per thousand in 1995 to 12.9 per thousand.
During the same year, the number of career woman reached 581,700.
"We uphold the country's only child policy and believe one child is enough for us. Regardless of the gender, we will give our child as good an education as we can. Hopefully, he or she will gain a doctorate someday," Lhamo said.
Sangbo continued, "To be frank, in the past Tibetan women were only birth machines for having children and good servants. Today, they have shaken off that tragic life and enjoy equal rights with men. Therefore I do not care whether my child is a boy or a girl."
As he talked the soft music of the "wedding march" started, the young couple were invited by the host to make the vow that they would stay together for ever.
In deep affection, they did so.
(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2002)