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Wedding Ceremony on West Lake

Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, is a well-known historical and cultural city. The top tourist attraction in the city is West Lake, and for thousands of years, legends of romance on West Lake have been widely spread.

One of them tells about White Snake (a female snake spirit), who transformed herself into a gentle, lovely young woman and served the people with the medical knowledge she had acquired. She met a young scholar named Xu Xian at Broken Bridge on Bai Causeway, West Lake, and the two fell in love and married.

Today, Bai Causeway is still a place where young men and women meet to court, go boating, or even marry. With the development of tourism in China starting in the 1980s, West Lake has become a popular spot for collective weddings. In the autumn of 1999, a collective wedding known as the Rose Wedding was one of the main programs during the Hangzhou International Tourist Festival.

The Rose Wedding consisted of three parts - the romantic trip, love on West Lake, and the Century Wedding Ceremony. On the occasion, 150 brides and their bridegrooms, all from various parts of China and abroad, gathered at Wulin Square in the urban area. They stood on a huge red carpet and arranged themselves in the form of a human heart, symbolizing mutual affinity. After a leader of the municipal government delivered a congratulatory message, they set off on the romantic trip to Broken Bridge on festooned pedicabs and open cars. On the way, friends, relatives, and local residents offered blessings to them.

When the brides and grooms arrived at Broken Bridge, they walked hand in hand along red carpets covered with rose petals, passed the Rainbow Gate and Bai Causeway, and boarded pleasure boats decorated with colorful silk for a trip of love on West Lake. When the boats landed at Orioles Singing in the Willows, a major scenic attraction on West Lake, the couples were escorted to the site of the Century Wedding Ceremony.

A leader of the Hangzhou municipal government presided over the ceremony and presented cards signed by the mayor to the young couples. The newlyweds said their vows, kissed each other, handed out candies, and drank wedding wine with the guests. Then they went into the Rose Garden to plant trees, an expression of their wish to remain devoted till the end of their lives.

The Rose Wedding Ceremony had the landscape of West Lake as its backdrop and a happy, romantic atmosphere that combined Chinese and Western traditions. It was well received by the people and even caught the attention of foreign media: the NHK Television Station of Japan and reporters from Malaysia and Singapore covered the event.

(China Pictorial 07/31/2001)

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