India is the home of diversity, and this is where everything takes place, whether it be a Hindu wedding, Sikh wedding or Buddhist matrimony. Buddhism differs from North Indian, South Indian and other wedding traditions when it comes to marriage.
Buddhist weddings offer a unique perspective on marriage, emphasizing the celebration of love and the enjoyment of festivities with family and friends. Unlike other Indian wedding traditions, Buddhist weddings have their distinct customs and rituals that reflect the cultural diversity of the region. From regional traditions to live music, Buddhist weddings in Asia, Southeast Asia, and India are rich in vibrant celebrations. If you’re curious to learn more about Buddhist marriages and their essential traditions, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need.
Buddhist weddings are less about strictly adhering to customs and more about enjoying the festivities with family. Buddhist weddings, which are most popular in Asia, Southeast Asia and India, are adorned with regional traditions, live music and celebrations of love. Here is all you need to know about Buddhist marriages.
Who Is Eligible For A Buddhist Wedding?
Both couples must be Buddhists in order to have a Buddhist wedding. This implies that people must adhere to Buddhist ideals and have confidence in the Buddha’s teachings. Buddhists are required to swear to uphold the Buddhist Precepts, which forbid taking life, lying, stealing, using intoxicants and indulging in sexual immorality.
Additionally, the couple must be able to show that they are dedicated to their union. This can entail participating in counseling sessions as needed and going on frequent meditation or temple retreats together. The two should be forward about their shared goals of forging an enduring relationship.
As long as both spouses are receptive to learning about and implementing Buddhist ideals into their life, it is also possible for couples who do not share the same religion to have a Buddhist wedding. A “mixed” wedding, which is essentially a Buddhist ceremony with components from other religions or cultures, is another option that some couples choose.
The goal of the Buddhist wedding ceremony, regardless of who is getting married, is to unite two people in a sincere and loving way. Couples get the chance to celebrate their union and make a public promise to one another in front of loved ones.
Buddhist wedding rituals can vary depending on the preparation and format suggested by their particular temple. However, most rituals and customs continue to be the same.
In this culture, there are a few requirements before getting married:
Buddhist Pre Wedding
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An appropriate life partner is often selected by the parents of the bride or groom-to-be as the first stage in a Buddhist marriage. In contemporary situations, the girl or boy may also select their own life mates, but in most cases, there are long-standing traditions at play. The boy’s family is often required to make the proposal. Horoscope matching is given a lot of weight in the procedure. Following the horoscope matching, the wedding planning moves forward.
The family of the chosen girl is approached by a friend of the groom’s family. He is expected to have a bottle of wine and the “Khada,” an official white scarf. They take these presents and start the horoscope matching procedure if the girl’s family agrees to the match. Khachang is the name for this official house visit and proposal to the girl.
The two families meet in person once they have decided on the match. They contrast the kikas, which are akin to horoscopes, for males and females. The families decide on a date for the engagement and the color of the clothes the bride and groom would wear on their wedding day after a thorough comparison. The kikas’ advice also determines the most auspicious day for the bride to leave her father’s house following marriage.
Chessian or Nangchang
The Buddhist tradition’s official engagement ceremony is referred to as Nangchang or Chessian. A monk or Rinpoche usually presides over the ritual. The bride’s maternal uncle is seated alongside the Rinpoche on an elevated stage. The Rinpoche prays to the Divine Powers, wishing the couple a long and happy union. The visitors are given Madyan, a holy beverage, to sip in celebration of the health of the marriage.
The girl’s older sisters and brothers get a variety of presents from relatives and guests, including Tsang and other types of meat. The mother of the girl receives chicken and rice as a thank-you present for raising the girl. The girl’s maternal uncle also has a significant part in the rite. A final marriage date is decided after further consultation with the kikas. Following the engagement, the pair often resides at the girl’s home.
The bride and groom’s attire during their wedding ceremony is not specifically prescribed by the Buddhist religion. However, it is crucial that the wedding outfit be appropriate and consistent with the culture.
The bride dons a garment called a Bhaku. It resembles a full-length sarong and is made of brocade. She wears it with a Hanju blouse, a long-sleeved top. Typically, Khichen, a kind of Chinese silk, is used to make it. She pairs this with a unique jacket and a scarf. Along with her attire, she also wears jewelry with enormous precious and semi-precious stones on her neck and forehead, including coral, turquoise and pearls. Although there isn’t a set color scheme for the garments, black is typically avoided since it’s unlucky.
The Bhaku worn by the bride and groom is identical, but the bride’s Bhaku ends just above the ankles. It is paired with a Lajha waistcoat. Additionally, the groom must dress in a matching brocade hat and waist belt.
Buddhist Wedding Ceremony
The first step in the wedding customs is to greet the guests with honor and ask them to wish the happy couple well after the ceremony. They will then engage in a brief act of prayer or meditation. They become calm and friendly as a result.
Both the bride and the groom will arrive at the temple on time for the wedding on the day of the wedding, along with their families. The bride’s family is the first to come, with trays of various fruits, tea, cakes, jewelry, etc. The number of platters should always be 6 or 9, as this is seen to be lucky and fortunate for weddings. In front of relatives, the bride and groom will both light candles on one of the trays, symbolizing the merging of their two families.
Buddhist Wedding Customs and Traditions
The next stage is to chant songs for the Lord Buddha while standing in front of the shrine and lit candles and incense. In doing so, they are asking for his blessing on the marriage and future well-being. Following this, the bride and groom’s parents will tie a large loop of thread over the couple’s heads as a sign of acceptance and permission for their continued union. The priest will next present them with the opportunity to take the Sigilovdda Sutta’s customary vows.
Next, as a present for their marriage, the couple will provide food, medication and flowers for all the monks within the temple grounds. The priest will then tie a string to the vessel that will be consecrated after the rite is through and lay it on the heads of these monks.
When Mangala Sutta and Jay Mangala Gatha apply red paste to their foreheads, it signifies that they have officially become a couple.
Precepts and Refuges: This is a special phenomenon that only occurs in Buddhist society. In other words, this refers to writing phrases that would inspire the pair to live a tranquil and moral existence. The Buddhist community views this as their greatest accomplishment — a composed way of living at any moment.
Poems and melodies are used during the celebration. The majority of the songs and poems are religious and traditional in nature. This is how they may show the couple their blessings and affection.
Vows are exchanged first, followed by the exchanging of rings, which is the main component of marriage. There are several methods to take vows or make pledges, both jointly and privately. The pair must also express their position on the future of their partnership and how they intend to uphold their promises.
Both were officially recognized as a couple by the priest, who will also bless them. There will be a loud round of applause from all attendees at the ceremony after this. The pair may now formally kiss each other. Following this, a select group of close friends and family members will have the opportunity to share their opinions on the pair, their finest traits and their future plans. The official priest will then bless them, which takes the form of a metta meditation, holy water sprinkles, a blessing rope, etc.
The priest will make his parting remarks to conclude the marriage, which will be followed by a celebration. Usually, the wedding and reception take place in the same place.
It is frequently advised to have the newlyweds leave before the rest of the guests and in the case of a legal wedding, this will happen right away when the couple is taken to another location by witnesses who will be signing documents. If this is not the case, it will be very difficult to find people to complete the formalities.
Once this is finished, a reception will be planned for all of the friends and family members who, for the most part, were unable to attend the wedding or other events. Everyone present — guests, family members, friends and the couple — is more relaxed and enjoying themselves at this time. The visitors will arrive and provide their best wishes for the couple’s future. Few families choose to celebrate it in an extravagant manner with delicious meals. However, all of these weddings will provide vegetarian fare because the majority of the Buddhist community adheres to a strict vegetarian diet and rejects violence.
Buddhist weddings are the best and most straightforward of all community unions, with the least amount of money wasted since they adhere to the conventional method and even today, the majority of them do not wish to do it in a luxurious manner. Because most traditions entail simple activities, they are also relatively adaptable and simple to carry out.
After consulting their kikas, the couple chooses a date to depart from the girl’s paternal house. Usually, it occurs between the first and tenth day after the wedding. The pair might decide to live apart from each other’s families. Music and dancing are a traditional feature of pre- and post-wedding celebrations.
Folk dance and melodies are an essential component of festivities in many North Eastern cultures. These include the Maruni and Sangini of Nepal, the Tamang Selo of Sikkim, the Zo-mal-lok Bhutia of Bhutan, the Yak Cham and Chabrung of Meghalaya and the Singhi Cham and Maruni of Nepal. Men perform some of them alone, while men and women collaborate on others.
Where Are Buddhist Marriages Conducted?
In many cultures, getting married in a temple or other place of worship is required; nevertheless, Buddhist marriages typically take place in a house or other leased location. The wedding site is decorated with images from Buddhism’s rich culture as well as other customs. The gold figure of Buddha is the first thing you see as you enter the space; it is surrounded by incense, candles, flowers, etc. Prayer flags are also added by Tibetan culture adherents to enhance the richness and tranquility of the setting.
Buddhist Marriage is Focused on Readings and Meditations
This is only one of the numerous characteristics that set Buddhist matrimony apart from other types of unions. In a typical Buddhist wedding, a guided meditation is followed by readings from the Dalai Lama, Gautam Buddha and other Buddhist monks. Readings from the Sigalovada Sutta, which provides the Buddha’s counsel on maintaining harmonious household ties, are a must at every wedding.
Buddhist Matrimonial Wedding Proclamations
Every marriage requires a set of vows and Buddhist matrimony is no exception. Here, the couple either writes their own verses or recites ones that a Buddhist elder has suggested. The vows express and emphasize the dedication to tolerance and compassion regardless of what transpires in the partnership. It emphasizes how important it is to maintain your commitment to your partner despite obstacles.
Buddhist Matrimonial Ceremonies That Lack Blessings Are Incomplete
Without asking for the blessing of priests, holy lords and senior family members, no wedding is ever considered complete. Similar to this, getting the monks’ approval before getting married is essential in Buddhism. Buddhist nuns or monks are welcomed as special guests to the wedding to bless the happy couple. In some cultures, the couple goes to the temple to ask for blessings as part of the celebration.
The Focus of a Buddhist Wedding Is the Feast
Food is usually a big part of weddings no matter what kind you go to, and Buddhist matrimonial weddings are no exception. Instead of being served buffet-style, food is served on a plate at Buddhist weddings. There are a ton of alternatives to pick from, from traditional foods to western and innovative dishes.
Each table has a large family-style dish in the middle, where the visitors are free to eat anything they choose. It all depends on the sort of cuisine you want to retain and the budget you have set for the wedding meals. Some people have a restricted menu, while others serve a 10-course feast.
You Must Have Music & Dance
The fact that Buddhist weddings are all about celebrating the love and unity of two individuals is only one of the many things we adore about them. Singing and dancing are the finest ways to celebrate. Buddhist marriage ceremonies sometimes incorporate dancing, from couples to folk tunes to teenagers swaying. Buddhist marriage is all about having fun, being joyful and living in the moment, whether it is through games, talks or other forms of entertainment.
Buddhist Weddings are Short
Buddhists don’t believe in many traditions. Therefore, weddings tend to be brief affairs where the emphasis is primarily on enjoying the marriage via food, dancing and music. Yes, praying, reciting poetry, meditation and other spiritual practices are significant, but in contrast to Hindu weddings, Buddhist weddings are brief, easy and full of joy.
Make sure you take note of the culture and the wedding’s traditions if you ever intend to attend a Buddhist wedding. It not only makes you feel more accepting, but you also get to experience a wide variety of cultural traditions.
A Buddhist wedding is a really moving and lovely way to honor two people’s devotion to one another. The ritual includes a number of symbolic elements, including fire and water, which stand for the purifying of the couple.
There can also be customary music and dance at the wedding. Remember that the commitment that the couple is making to one another is the most significant aspect of a Buddhist wedding. A Buddhist wedding may be a memorable occasion with the correct planning, preparation and assistance from family and friends.
Serena & Dominic are a married couple and parents to 3 wonderful children. They plan weddings, run multiple small businesses, and curate wedding events.
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