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Wedding » Indian-weddings » Srilankan-weddings-070129
 
Straight from Sri Lanka
Traditional Buddhist weddings

Sri Lankan wedding procession
Like India, Sri Lanka is also a confluence of many religions - Hindu, Buddhist, Muslims and Christians and their marriage customs and rituals vary accordingly. During ancient times, pre-Buddhist Sinhalese marriage laws and customs would have been similar to those prescribed in the Hindu laws of Manu. With the advent of Buddhism in the island during the 3rd century B.C., we may presume that the legal position of women underwent a significant improvement.

The Sinhalese customs and rituals have also undergone a vast change from the Kandyan  times. Kandyan  society was an extremely licentious one where both men and women had full freedom to cohabit with whomsoever they pleased. Sexual morality hardly ever mattered and polygamy (a man taking more than one wife), polyandry (a woman taking more than one husband) and concubinage were all recognised as legal. Group marriages and trial marriages were also commonplace. Divorce was also very easy as the Kandyan  law recognised that either men or women may dissolve the marital tie at their will and pleasure.

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Buddhism saw to it that marriage in Sinhalese society became a secular contract and not a rigid sacrament as in Hindu law. Polygamy and polyandry did not find favour with the British who saw to its abolition by means of the Kandyan  marriage ordinance of 1859. Here we know more details of a traditional Buddhist marriage in the Sinhalese society.

Nekath  - The auspicious time
Buddhist weddings are influenced by the Hindu culture which gives prominence to Nekath , the auspicious time. The Nekath  is derived from the horoscopes of the bride and the groom which is based on their dates and times of birth.

Poruwa  ceremony
Of the many traditional events that take place during a Buddhist wedding, the Poruwa  ceremony is the most important. Therefore it is strictly guided by Nekath . The Poruwa Siritha  (Poruwa  ceremony) appears to have existed in Sri Lanka before the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd Century B.C.

Through the ages, many innovations have been introduced to the Poruwa Siritha . The Poruwa Siritha  was considered a valid custom as a registered marriage until the British introduced the registration of marriages by law in 1870. Today's Poruwa  ceremony has been influenced by both upcountry and low country customs of Sri Lanka.

Elephant decked up for the procession Wedding procession
Poruwa  is an elevated and beautifully decorated wooden platform on which the traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony takes place. When arranged on a grand scale, the groom is escorted to the wedding location by drummers and typical Kandyan  dancers in procession and even an elephant is decked up for the procession. The bridegroom and party assemble on the left of the Poruwa  and the bridal party on the right. The bride and groom enter the Poruwa  leading with the right foot. They greet each other with palms held together in the traditional manner.

Auspicious 'seven'
The ceremony starts when the couple offers seven betel leaf bundles to the Gods thereby requesting the Gods to protect the lives of seven generations originating from their marriage. The bride's father places the right hand of the bride on that of the groom as a symbolic gesture of handing over the bride to the bridegroom.


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