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Traditional Thai Buddhist Weddings

Traditional Thai Buddhist Weddings

Buddhism is an integral part of Thai culture and everyday life, and Buddhist practice is teeming with numerous ceremonies that mark joyous moments which take place during a person's natural lifetime. Of the many Beautiful Buddhist ceremonies, the traditional Thai Buddhist wedding is perhaps one of the most spiritual and colorful of them all.

Traditional Thai Buddhist weddings vary from region to region, but the Northern Thai wedding are known to be the most romantic wedding ceremonies in the world. This wedding is called the "Lanna Wedding", which the Northerners consider true tradition wedding and a social gathering.

Thai wedding parties involves a lot of eating, song, and dance, while the parents and family proudly announce to the guests that a man and a woman will publicly become a husband and wife.

A Lanna wedding often begins before the sun rises. At 5 am, the couple prepares food to give as their offerings to the monks while they do their morning rounds. The offerings are composed of food for the body, flowers, and three incense sticks - one for the Buddha (Prapoot), one for the words of Buddha (Pratum), and one for the Buddhist monks (Prasong). These offerings are given together as a couple. Often the elder monks will chant a blessing for the couple in order to give them a truly enlightened marriage.

After the morning ritual, the couple will prepare go to the local wat or Buddhist temple to receive the formal blessing from the head monk. This is where the religious rites of the wedding ceremony begin. The couple kneels close together in front of the monk with their hands folded in the traditional wai position, which is a sign of supplication and respect. Incense is lit while Buddhist monks chant prayers in the ancient Pali language, creating a calm and spiritual atmosphere. The head monk blesses the couple with holy water before symbolically tying each of the couple's wrists with a string. He then paints three dots on each of the couple's foreheads, which represent the three incense sticks offered to the monks earlier that morning. The entire ceremony lasts around half an hour, and the combination of serenity and spiritual energy experienced by the couple is indescribable.
After the couple is blessed at the temple, it is now time for the merit-making ritual, an important aspect of Buddhist ceremonies like weddings. Making merit can be done in many forms: from offering donations to the monks, or by granting animals their freedom. The couple will release birds or place a fish or turtle back into the water. The number nine is considered a lucky number in Thai culture so couples often release nine birds and nine fish for luck, but turtles are traditionally released as a pair. Thai Buddhists believe that offering a merit gift to the monks at the wat (temple) will ensure happiness throughout the couple's married life together.

The couple then leaves the wat in order to prepare for the highlight of the Lanna wedding - a cord-tying ritual called the pook kor mue. The pook kor mue or sacred cord is a

unique feature of weddings in Northern Thailand; instead of the pook kor mue, weddings in other parts of the country have a water-pouring ritual instead. The cord-tying ritual is held at the bride’s family home. The whole ceremony begins with the groom getting led in a procession towards the house, where his bride awaits him – quite the opposite of Western weddings. When the groom and his wedding party reaches the families’ neighborhood, he must prove his worth to the bride’s friends and family by obtaining passage through three symbolic gates: a wood gate, silver gate and a gold gate. The wooden gate is often closed and guarded by friends and distant relatives of the bride. They will allow the grooms to pass after he offers to give them a drink, or perform a song or dance. The gatekeepers at the silver gate are relatives closer to the bride; thus, it is harder for the groom to convince them of his worthiness to marry into the family.

The gatekeepers at gold gate are normally the parents or closest friends. They will torment the groom and insist that he make a public promise to the guests and the villagers that he will be a good husband and wonderful new member of the bride’s family before he can see his bride-to-be. Only then is the groom allowed to enter the house. Once he has entered, the marriage ceremony begins.

This part of the Thai wedding ceremony is officiated by the village elder, who has received training as a monk earlier in life. The couple kneels on large pillows in front of the elder while he gets the pook kor mue, a set strings made of nine cords of cotton yarn prepared on a tray. The set of pook kor mue is then handed by helpers to guests older than

the couple, who will tie the strings on the couple’s wrists.This act symbolizes the couple's commitment to each other and unbreakable bond of their marriage; it also shows that their marriage is a social bond as well as a personal relationship. As they bind the couple's wrists, the older guests share their wisdom on married life while everyone else takes the opportunity to congratulate the newlyweds with sincere wishes for happiness, good health, financial prosperity, and healthy children. If the couple chooses to, they can also exchange vows and give wedding rings at this point in the ritual.

After the pook kor mue is over, the couple is escorted to their nuptial bedroom, which is decorated with flowers and items that symbolize fertility and prosperity. Sometimes there might already be an old Thai couple sitting on the nuptial bed, waiting for the newlyweds to arrive. The Thai people believe that an old couple is evidence of long, successful marriages and often, the old couple imparts their good luck to the newlyweds in different ways. The end of the wedding ceremony is marked when the newlyweds sit together on the bed, thus symbolizing the beginning of a life together.

Now that the formal ceremonies are over, the newlyweds can take their first meal together with their guests. Traditional Thai musicians and dancers do elaborate performances while everyone eats, socializes, and shares in the joyous occasion of two people forever married by the community.

Unlike other organized religions, the tolerant Buddhist faith allows monks to perform Thai Buddhist weddings for anyone, even if they do not know much about Buddhism nor practice the faith.

Although the Buddhist wedding ceremony on its own is not legally recognized as a marriage, the spiritual experience of the ceremony itself makes the marriage feel far more profound than signing a certificate in city hall. Only in recent years have Thai couples bothered to legally register their marriages, but now it is not uncommon for them to do so.


" As published on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website- Austrailia"

written by Somchit Srimoon © 2007-2010

Useful Information

If you would like to experience an authentic Lanna wedding, contact Somchit Srimoon of Thailand Weddings. She and her team will arrange a Authentic Thai Buddhist wedding or a Lanna wedding for you. Either wedding also includes the legal registration of your marriage under Thai law so your marriage can be legally recognized in Australia and the rest of the world!

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a traditional Thai wedding here are some etiquette tips to help you be a respected guest.



lamphun-wat phra that hariphunchai-01     
       ited in mid-town, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai was built during the reign of King Arthitayarat, a descendant of Queen Chamthewi some 800 years ago.A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi which contains a hair of the Lord Buddha, having nine-tiered umbrella, made of gold weighing approximately 6,498.75 grams...

Chiang Rai

      on the bank of the Kok River within town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. Doi Chom Thong has been a sacred site for aextremely long time. The site was surely reverenced as the home of local spirits before Buddhism arrived in the area.

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