There is no set wedding service in the Buddhist faith. The founder of the Buddhist religion did not consider marriage to be a sacred ceremony so Buddhists consider marriage to be a social occasion rather than a religious ceremony. The Buddha stated that marriage should be based on a deep mutual respect between partners and that it should be a partnership of equals.
The wedding is usually influenced by the customs of the country in which it is taking place. Some couples choose to have a Buddhist blessing in a temple after their civil ceremony.
Buddhists can get married at any time, depending on the hours of the chosen register office or temple. There are no days on which it is forbidden for Buddhists to marry. No notice is required for the blessing, other than to ask the temple if the proposed time is convenient. You do not need to attend any meetings with the monks prior to your blessing. There is no blessing rehearsal.
People of all religions are welcome to attend a Buddhist blessing service, as long as each guest respects the traditions of the Buddhist faith. Guests should be aware that they must behave respectfully towards the Buddhist monks in the temple and should remove their shoes before entering the shrine room.
The bride, groom and guests are free to wear whatever they like, as long as it is not too revealing. The bride usually wears a dress and the groom a suit.
The blessing ceremony takes place in the shrine room of the Buddhist temple. The ceremony lasts about half an hour, during which time ordained monks chant from Buddhist sacred texts in the Pali language. The style of chanting has been handed down since the time of the Buddha.
The guests and wedding couple listen and observe, but do not participate. For this reason there are no service sheets. Confetti is not thrown as it has no place in Buddhist culture. There is no organist or choir, other than the monks themselves. Photographs and videotapes of the ceremony are allowed.
After the blessing, the couple and guests usually go to a reception. As there are no hard-and-fast marriage traditions in the Buddhist faith, what happens next is entirely up to the couple!
A couple can be married in the eyes of the law by having a Buddhist ceremony as long as the person who conducts their ceremony is registered to conduct weddings. If this is not the case, a civil ceremony will also have to be held.
The legal requirements to be fulfilled are those that apply to civil marriages. However, if the building in which the couple wish to marry is in a different registration district to where they live, the superintendent registrar needs proof that the building is the couples normal place of worship. If this is not possible, the couple are required to give notice in the registration district in which the building is situated after having met the necessary residency requirement.
If there is no building in the couples registration district, they will be permitted to marry in a building in the nearest registration district that has one.
It is traditional in some communities on the morning of their wedding for the bride and groom to visit a monk who has taken a vow of poverty and give him food in return for his blessing.
The bed has significance 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, coins and, in more rural communities, a tomcat. These symbolise fertility and happiness.
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