Beijing (AFP) – A stream little more than a metre wide separates them, but for at least three centuries a bitter rivalry pitted two eastern Chinese villages against one another — until love brought the adversaries together.
Wushan and Yuepu in Fujian province, which count between them some 7,500 inhabitants, used to observe an unusual tradition whereby people who lived on one side of the river were forbidden from marrying those from the other.
“Nobody can remember where this ban on marriages came from, we only know that we fought each other around 300 years ago for the right to use the water,” Wang Hongdong, Communist Party secretary for Wushan told AFP on Friday.
The confrontation led to a curse, which said that marriage with a person from the rival village would lead only to misfortune. The rivalry was passed from generation to generation.
“They fought again about 40 years ago, over graves,” Wang said.
“Then relations started to settle, especially over the last 10 years. We started to build a shoe factory together and the young people were getting on well.”
But villagers remained forbidden from marrying their rivals until a young girl from Yuepu fell in love with a boy from Wushan, around three years ago.
“The families were dead against the marriage on account of the curse,” Wang said. “They really believed in it”.
The young couple married anyway but were forced to leave Fujian and move to another province, some 1,500 km (900 miles) from their home.
In 2015 they returned to the villages to celebrate their marriage in the young man’s house, but the parents of the bride refused to attend.
But when the woman later gave birth to two beautiful boys, the inhabitants of both villages stopped believing in the curse, Mr Wang said.
To mark the reconciliation and officially abolish the ban on marriages, the two villages this week organised a ceremony in the presence of local Buddhist and Communist authorities. Some 500 people attended.
<figure><figcaption>A Chinese couple, who were forced to leave their villages upon declaring their love for one another, returned in 2015 to celebrate their marriage in the young man's house, but the parents of the bride refused to attend <span>Copyright AFP/File Johannes EISELE</span> </figcaption></figure>