Change the clothes, Yi girls begin their adulthood
In the Mountainous Liangshan area in Yunnan Province, a ceremony, known as "Sha Laluo" in the Yi dialect, meaning taking off a baby skirt and putting on an adult one, has been observed for many generations. Before the ceremony, girls wear red and white skirts. Afterwards, they will wear long skirts divided in three parts, of which the middle is black and blue. Instead of wearing one ponytail, their hair will be made into two braids with embroidered handkerchiefs. Additionally, they will also begin to wear earrings.
After the ceremony, young ladies can walk freely on the streets, watch horse races and even date men. The time of the ceremony usually occurs between the ages of 15 to 17. It depends on each girl's situation. An elderly person picks an auspicious date for the ceremony.
The ceremony symbolizes that the girls have become women. Mothers will prepare new skirts and other colorful ornaments for the ceremony.
On the day of the ceremony, the family will prepare food for the guests. The guests arrive early in the morning, but according to custom, males are not permitted to attend the ceremony. Only girls and female relatives are invited.
The ceremony varies in different regions. In some regions, during the ceremony, some women say amusing things to the girl. In other regions, the ceremony is filled with songs and laughter. The woman who presides over the ceremony asks the girl who she loves and what kind of man she prefers: a lazy or a hardworking one, or an honest or a dishonest one. The girl always keeps quiet in face of the questions, and sits shyly with her head down. The girl who sits beside her will answer all the questions for her. At last, the woman sings a song with the words: "You should wear the silver medal yourself, the bead chains made by your relatives and choose your lover yourself." Then, a woman is invited to do the girl's hair. The ponytail is changed into two braids to show that the girl is a now mature woman.
At the end, the girl puts on earrings and a long skirt. This is the best moment of her life. Later she would recall this day with sweet memories. Then the "Sha Lahuo" ceremony reaches its climax.
Only when the ceremony is finished can the men take part in the banquet. Everyone sits on the floor and enjoys the delicious food. From that day on, the girl has officially come of age and can date men, have sex or get married. Before the ceremony, they are strictly forbidden from having sex and could face severe punishment.