It may be less common these days for a bride from the Hoklo clan to use as many as 80 silver hairpins to dress up her elaborate coiffure like those from her previous generations did. Yet scenes of kith and kin in traditional attire performing dances mimicking dragon boat paddling as part of the wedding rituals still occasionally emerge from some corners of Tai Po, where many descendants of this indigenous group are living. Ranae So Man-ying, whose ancestors were Hoklo fishermen, said their wedding traditions illustrated the strong ties of kinship. Spirit of Hong Kong Awards return to honour unsung heroes of the community “Kinswomen are always ready to help with a marriage event,” she said. “They would volunteer to help organise things, perform and cook.” In her ongoing research project Marital Tie on Sea, So, a consultant on service design by profession, delves into her Hoklo roots and examines what formalities the boat-dwelling fisherfolk and their children, estimated to number more than 10,000 in Hong Kong, would go through to tie the knot. The independent researcher said her findings had led her to revisit long-held beliefs that daughters of fisherman families, who were often less well-off, would be treated less favourably than their brothers. “Evidence shows that many loving fathers provided huge dowries,” So noted. “They would give their daughters many gifts, including new clothes.” She said she aimed to help younger generations of Hoklo to gain a better understanding of their own cultural origins. Ethnic minority teacher nominated for Spirit of Hong Kong Awards for community work “I also want to help educate Hongkongers on the distinctive customs practised by indigenous groups such as ours,” she said. The work has earned So a nomination for a Spirit of Hong Kong Awards. The annual event, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, honours the achievements of remarkable people whose endeavours may go unnoticed. Project partner Yuen Ka-chun has recommended her for the Spirit of Culture Award, which recognises individuals who inspire those to preserve Hong Kong’s legacy or celebrate its heritage and traditions. So said she was grateful that her parents had helped her find historical photographs and vintage bridal accessories for her research. She noted that her relatives were also supportive of her work. “My aunts told me many little-known stories,” So said, adding oral history had filled the gap created by a lack of written records that chronicled the evolution of their traditions. The researcher said most of her clansmen had received little formal education, but they attached great importance to preserving their rituals and culture. “They are contributing to a worthy cause that cannot be measured in terms of money,” she said.