The marriage certificates in China. (Photo: Sipa)
Extravagant weddings and funerals once kept many people in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture of Sichuan province in poverty.
"Providing brides' families with excessive betrothal gifts and spending an astronomical sum of money on funerals for the elderly have been outdated customs and bad habits for many years," Peng Qinghua, Party chief of Sichuan, said in the provincial capital Chengdu on Wednesday at a news conference on poverty reduction.
Many Yi people in Liangshan are up to their eyes in debt after throwing banquets for weddings or funerals.
"One ox is worth more than 10,000 yuan ($1,470). To prepare banquets for guests, one family will have several or even more than 100 oxen slaughtered. Several generations of Yi people would have to repay the debt because many of them have borrowed money to arrange the banquets," said Bai Zhiqu, Party chief of Mayizu township in the prefecture's Jinyang county.
"One of the major reasons why Yi people are poor is that they have such outdated customs and bad habits," said Bai, who is from a local Yi family.
To stop extravagance and waste, the Jinyang county government formulated a regulation in 2015 banning excessive betrothal gifts for brides' families and oxen butchery for funerals.
Since then, the township government has repeatedly publicized the regulation in the farmers' evening school and villagers' conference.
To promote the practice of economizing, the township government has given electrical appliances such as washing machines as rewards for villagers who do not offer many betrothal gifts or kill oxen for banquets, according to Bai.
The village of Mike used to be littered with fireworks debris and ox bones because villagers would set off lots of fireworks before treating relatives and friends at banquets that were a feast of beef.
"The efforts have paid off in the village of 1,703 people. Villagers no longer offer excessive betrothal gifts for brides' families. Nor do they slaughter oxen or set off fireworks for old people's funerals. The cost of a wedding or funeral is about 20,000 yuan in Mike village," said Jilu Nuguye, a middle-aged Yi resident in the village.
"And the village is much cleaner without oxen bones or debris from fireworks in the street," he said.
According to Jifu Yuegu, head of the publicity department of the Jinyang county committee of the Communist Party of China, the success story of Mike is being promoted throughout Jinyang county.