A wedding video from a ceremony in New Zealand has gone viral because of the incredibly moving footage of a haka that surprised the bride and groom.
The traditional Maori warrior dance was performed by friends and family of newlyweds, Aaliyah and Benjamin Armstrong.
Since the video was shared on Facebook, it has received 27 million views. The sheer emotion was too much for Aaliyah who was moved to tears by the display.
Aaliyah told CNN that the performance came as quite a surprise to the couple.
“We knew that they’d organized a haka, but not that scale. And with my best friend jumping in as well, it turned out to be a bit of a surprise,” she said.
“I love my Maori side but this time (watching the haka) was different, knowing they were doing it for me and my husband. It was a blessing to be part of it.”
More than 38,000 comments have been left on social media, with many people sharing their own pride and explanation of the tradition.
“I’m Polynesian from Hawaii and each culture of Polynesian people have their own dance,” one woman said. “These are the Maori Polynesian people from New Zealand doing the Haka. The war dance meant to intimidate. A very meaningful way to welcome the groom to their family while saying be good to their sister.”
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People from other backgrounds described their own marriage ceremony rituals.
“This is awesome! I love watching other cultures! My husband and I are both full Native American from the Navajo tribe and we have our own traditional wedding practices. This is the first I’ve seen one as emotional as this,” another woman said.
What is particularly moving, though, is discovering why the haka, traditionally a war dance, has a place at a wedding.
“Haka is a challenge and I assume they’re challenging the groom,” one person explained. “By the groom finishing the dance with them, I assume that he is saying that he accepts the challenge and proves to them that he and his bride are one. It’s like they are literally bringing him into the fold while in a traditional sense, giving the bride away.”