What are Buddhist Marriage/Wedding Ceremonies Rituals and Customs?

What are Buddhist Marriage/Wedding Ceremonies Rituals and Customs?

Buddhism is one of the major world’s religions with a different history and philosophy. The main concepts of the earlier tradition is still remains the part of their religion which includes four truths of their life and they are-

  • existence is sufferings,
  • sufferings has cause i.e. craving and attachment
  • there is cessation of sufferings of nirvana and
  • the “eightfold path”- the right views, the right resolve, the right speech, the right action, the right livelihood, the right action, the right mindfulness, the right concentration.

Dharmacakra – symbol of the Dharma, the Buddha’s teaching of the path to enlightenment

The five main percepts are to refrain from stealing, acting and speaking falsely, drinking intoxicants and taking away life. The monastic members undertake these percepts.

The Buddhist religion is famous for its simplicity and the same is reflected in their marriage also. The Buddhist Matrimony is based more on faith rather as compared to any of the other religious foundations. There is no compulsion of doing ceremonies, it is on the wishes of the couple to go for simple registered marriage from court, or for one of few Buddhist temples having license of the marriage. If you are looking for a Buddhist life partner in India you can see Vivaah.com’s page with Buddhist boys and girls profile listing.

Among the Buddhists, the boy or his parent choose the prospective life mate for the boy. Usually, the family and friends of the boy goes to the girl’s house along with offering like a white silk scarf called khada and bottle of whiskey. If the family agrees upon the proposal, next is the Khachang ritual. It is the meeting between the two families. Traditionally the boy offers a gift to his fiancée; that can be as big as a land.

The Buddhist wedding observes pre-wedding and wedding rituals. Horoscope of both bride and groom is handed over to the priest and then the priest fixes an auspicious time and date as per the horoscope match.  After the priest fixes the marriage, there is Chessian/ Betrothal ceremony. In this ceremony, firstly, the maternal uncle of the bride is seated on the raised platform, and then the priest chants prayers and gives Madyan i.e. a religious drink to everybody. Normally, this is the only pre wedding ritual that takes place in Buddhist wedding.

Generally, the Buddhist Matrimony takes place at the temples.  On the wedding day early in the morning, the bride and groom along with their families arrives at the temple. The groom’s family and relatives carries a procession with the trays containing traditional cake, fruits, tea, meat, wine. One of the trays also contains jewelry to offer the bride as a dowry. One of the trays contains pair of candles that are lit by the either bride or groom. It is considered that the lighting up of two candles is the union of two souls along with their families. The numbers of trays are always either six or nine. Generally, seven or eight numbers of trays are considered unlucky.

After the offering, both bride and groom bow down in front of the Buddha idol. The bride, groom and family member’s chants chant procession hymns like Vandana, Tisarana and Pancasila by lighting an incense sticks and candles in front of the idol. Next, the bride and groom chant traditional undertaking as emblazoned in Sigilovdda Sutta.

The wedding ceremony is solemnized after reciting Mangal Sutta and Jaymangala Gatha. The recital is considered as blessings to the newlywed couple.

Video from YouTube of a Tibetan Buddhist Wedding Ceremony

Then the parents of the couples put a loop of strings on their heads in order to connect them, then the couples  offers flowers, sweets, fruits , food etc to the monks. Sometimes, money is also given along with the other offerings. Then the priest places a thread on the head of the monks chanting some prayers in Pali language for giving blessings to the couples. A red paste is applied on the head of the couple as a part of their ritual. Then the couple leaves the temple for their home.

Buddhist wedding ceremony includes energetic affair wherein the boy’s family arrives to the girl’s place. A pot full of water and flowers are placed in a typical way along with the bamboo sticks. The pot is placed which adorns the entrance signifying good luck. The bride’s sisters welcome the groom in a tricky way by throwing nettle leaves and thorns. The groom has to offer suitable gifts or money to the bride’s sister. Unless the groom offers the gifts, he is allowed to enter the hall.

Thus, the wedding is treated as one of the simplest marriages as there are no complex rituals to be performed. The entire marriage takes place as decided by the parents of both bride and the groom as Lord Buddha regarded marriage as a social affair rather than the religious affair.

Image Source – http://commons.wikimedia.org/