THE SHORT STORY
We need your help bringing to fruition a traditional Karen wedding in Huay Pakoot – a beautiful hill-tribe village in Northern Thailand. This will be an amazing celebration for our villagers to perform unique dance, song and ceremony, while giving GVI the opportunity to document such one-of-a-kind traditions. All funds will go directly to the village to help develop their community and preserve the fading Karen culture.
Furthermore, and perhaps more precious, a healthier Huay Pakoot community means healthier elephants. Support to this project will help the families return and keep their elephants home. Fortunately, home means a natural and peaceful habitat in the forest, and avoidance of working in circus shows, camps and street begging.
THE LONG STORY
Given unfortunate conditions of civil unrest, many Karen ethnic groups have been forced to resettle in different areas throughout Southeast Asia, and further in Western countries. Without the proper means to document and preserve their traditions, many are concerned their culture will disappear soon.
This wedding provides an ideal opportunity to display Karen culture at its finest, and document it as celebrations unfold.
Here's what's need for villagers to prepare the celebration:
- Village livestock* for food & drink (pigs, chickens, rice whiskey, etc.)
- New communal space for ceremony (labor and materials)
- Entertainment for song and dance (audio equipment, instruments, etc.)
- Cooking, cleaning and set up for a day’s worth of celebration
*All livestock used in meals is provided in a humane and spiritual manner.
EVEN LONGER STORY (YOUR SUPPORT)
GVI volunteers will document the entire process, including: local food and cooking, hand-woven clothing, spiritual and ceremonial blessings, unique dancing and music. All content will be published and archived to preserve these precious Karen traditions.
For those who cannot physically join the celebration, we’ll bring the experience to you virtually with tons of published photos, video and translations.
Here’s how it will unfold:
- The volunteers will secure permission from their families
- They will then spend a week separated leading up to the ceremony
- On the morning of the ceremony, villagers will sacrifice a pig to be prepared for a feast later in the day
- While food is being prepped, the bride and groom will dress in the appropriate Karen clothing – all hand-woven by villagers of Huay Pakoot
- The families then bless the couple with traditional sayings and string-bracelet tying
- A brief ceremony is performed to marry the couple
- A not-so-brief consumption of rice whiskey and delicious local food ensues
- Traditional Karen dancing, music and celebration continues throughout the night''
...THIS STORY IS STILL GOING? (TRUST ME, THIS IS WHAT MATTERS)
Your support and donations will go even further than creating an unforgettable experience. All funds will go directly to the village and help with the following causes:
- Preservation of the fading Karen culture: a once in a lifetime Karen wedding
- Community development: further building of Huay Pakoot (crop fields, paved roads, recycling, etc.)
- Elephant rescue and reintroduction: financial support for elephant-owning families.
Each individual goal above is important, and combined, they all support the greater cause of GVI and Huay Pakoot’s efforts to save elephants and build a strong, sustainable community.
BACKGROUND ON GVI
Living in natural, social herds in the forest has a tremendous impact on elephant's psychological health. It also provides them with a balanced diet and dramatically increases their life expectancy. No longer forced to work, these elephants will live longer and happier lives alongside their mahouts.
We plan to host a sustainable, population of elephants living naturally in the forest. Each new elephant that joins the rescued herd increases chances of long-term success for this growing population of elephants in the forest.
GVI Background: http://www.gvi.org
GVI Chiang Mai Community: http://www.gvi.co.uk/blog/chiang-mai/