In Buddhism, marriage is purely a secular affair. Marriage is considered a personal concern and there are no religious directions on whether or not a person should marry or remain unwed. There is also no formal wedding service. This does not, however, mean that Buddhist weddings do not have a rich tradition.
A marriage agent usually finds prospective couple much like an arranged marriage. After several more visits, including one with an astrologer, the marriage ceremony date is set. Monks bless the house with holy water and recite verses from the Tipitaka (Buddhist holy book). As the monks complete their blessing, the groom’s family offers them gifts to bring good luck to the marriage.
The bed is significant in the Buddhist culture and an older couple may sometimes be called on to prepare the bridal bed and decorate it with lucky talismans such as bags of rice, sesame seeds and coins. These symbolise fertility and happiness.
THE WEDDING CEREMONY
Spiritual Buddhist wedding traditions do not necessarily require the presence of monks or the use of a temple’s shrine room. For these traditions, the wedding location would be equipped with a shrine to Buddha featuring candles, flowers, incense and a statue or image of Buddha. The couple then ask for the blessings of Buddha at the temple. The couple are dressed in traditional outfits. It is here that the couple first see each other on that day.
The ceremony begins as the entire assembly recites the readings from Vandana and other books. As Buddhism is a secular religion, there is no assigned set of marriage vows. However, the bride and groom recite their expected undertakings using the Sigilovdda Sutta as a guide. After these vows, the bride and groom can exchange rings. If monks are present, the marriage vows are preceded by chanting.
This is a very special and joyous part of your wedding day. Traditionally, led by local village elders and traditional musicians, the groom would make his way towards the house, where the bride waits for him. Once the groom arrives, he must prove his worth to the ‘gatekeepers’ before he is allowed to get married. The bride then has the opportunity to ask the groom to make promises for their life together.
Once officially married, the ;Aide goes to the groom’s house where she is welcomed by her mother-in-law and a feast is shared.