Wedding Traditions in Thailand
Thailand. The home to some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world. Host of some of the finest resorts, hotels, and restaurants on the planet. And one of the best wedding and honeymoon destinations there is. These are not exaggerations (maybe a little), but seriously, one cannot go wrong if they choose to go to Thailand for their wedding. Thailand has a beautiful culture, with lovely wedding traditions that one can observe, and even partake in. having a traditional Thailand wedding actually minimizes the process one has to go through to get married in Thailand.
So, this article is focused on the traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony, which typically has three parts to it: the pre-wedding events, the religious wedding ceremony, and the secular wedding ceremony.
Pre-Wedding Events, aka Before the Wedding
Before the actual wedding, certain formalities have to be taken care of, such as:
Ø The Asking: Traditionally, the groom’s closest friend meets with the bride’s father to ask for her hand in marriage.
Ø The Dowry: Closest Friend then negotiates the dowry with Bride’s Father. Dowry here is called son sodt, and this is given to the bride’s family as an expression of joy and gratitude for such a lovely and well-mannered bride. Anyway, this is mostly symbolic, and the dowry may be given to the couple after the wedding.
Ø The Wedding Date: So, the suit has been pressed and accepted, and there is going to be a wedding. To set the date, though, an astrologer is consulted to check the star charts and planet alignments to find an auspicious date for the wedding, which is usually in August. Coincidence?
Ø Wedding Eve: A Buddhist ceremony takes place, where the couple pays their respects to their ancestors in the presence of nine monks.
The Religious Wedding Ceremony, aka The Wedding
Early in the morning on that auspicious date in August, with the nine monks all present…
Ø The couple goes to the temple, where they first bow down before the image of Buddha, say prayers and chants, and light incense and candles for Buddha.
Ø The parents of the couple place their hands on the couple’s heads and wind twin loops of thread around the couple, which is meant to connect them (basically, they tie them together at the waist)
Ø The couple makes offerings to the temple: food, medicine, cash-in-envelopes, et cetera
In the afternoon, still on that auspicious August date…
Ø This part of the ceremony is called rod nam sang. A length of thread is unwound between the hands of the nine monks, with the thread ending with the Most Senior Monk. Most Senior Monk connects this thread to a container (could be a conch shell) of water. This sanctifies water is then mixed with herbs and wax drippings from the candles lit for Buddha, and the resulting paste is placed in small dots on the couples’ foreheads.
Ø The monks eat lunch with the couple, and retire.
The Secular Wedding Ceremony, aka The After-Party
Some call it the reception. Whatever one may call it, it is important to note that the monks do not attend this (hence the lunch after the afternoon ceremony. They have had their party). This is for the couple and their guests, and their guests’ guests (extra guests are inevitable). There is lots of food, drink, and noise (some call it merriment). The parents bid farewell to their children, formally called a send-forth, and the wedding is formally over. Formally.