Buddhist weddings are simple occasions that are enjoyed by friends and family who join to celebrate the very special union between husband and wife. Traditionally, the civil ceremony can take place anywhere, and is usually held in the home or garden of a relative, as not many temples have the legal right to perform such ceremonies. After they are legally married, the couple will proceed to a Buddhist temple for the blessings of a monk. However, some modern couples that are not situated close to a temple have decided to erect a shrine in the venue or location of their choice and use this instead. Part of this blessing ceremony includes giving gifts of food, flowers, candles and so on to the monk and presenting prayers to the Almighty and to Buddha.
Before the wedding, the family of the groom often bring flowers, fruit and wine to the temple, presented on trays. They may also bring candles that can be lit by the bride and groom in symbolism of their new state of unity. Interestingly, six and nine are considered to be lucky numbers and are, therefore, usually the number of trays brought to the temple by the family.
The attire of both the couple and their guests is formal and conservative, showing respect for the ancient religious protocols and standards. Traditionally, the bridal couple will wear meditation robes that have been embroidered and embellished for an ornate, intricate look. These can be in bright, rich colours, such as red, orange or burgundy. Some modern couples, particularly those in western countries, prefer to wear a more typical white gown, which is beginning to be accepted more and more by the Buddhist communities. No shoes will be worn by the couple or their guests in the temple.
The vows are significantly different from western-world weddings, but have the same basic commitment to love, protect and honour one another. In addition, the husband vows to present pleasing gifts to his wife and she promises to be hospitable to his family and friends.
The ceremony is followed by a great celebration that is characterised by delicious food, singing and dancing. The food is likely to be vegetarian or even vegan (which implies no animal products – such as eggs or dairy – whatsoever).
Unlike some other religions, Buddhists can marry someone of any faith, as long as their new spouse supports and respects their love for Buddha. For this reason, perhaps, the customs of a Buddhist wedding are not so much about religion and faith as they are about celebrating and ensuring a harmonious, happy relationship. The ceremony and associated rituals are based on the preferences of the bride and groom’s families, rather than on a religious set of rules or requirements.
Although one of the most simple weddings, a Buddhist wedding can also prove to be one of the most special, as they are focussed almost exclusively on the love and commitment of the couple. This proves to be very memorable for the couple, but also for the friends and family with whom they choose to share their wedding day.
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