Myanmar Traditional Wedding Ceremony
When a boy and a girl come of age and, love one another and will want to marry and live happy ever after, a wedding ceremony will be performed for them where their parents, relatives, honourable guests and friends are invited, so that they will be recognized as a newly married couple. This wedding ceremony we present, celebrated according to Myanmar Traditions and computable to the modern age.
As marrying is a once in a life time occasion, Myanmar women regard the wedding ceremony very seriously, and you can be sure the bride will be having cold feet, butterflies in her stomach and perspiration on her forehead as she faces this very special day of her entire life. On this day of matrimony, it’s a custom for the bride’s family: parents, brothers and sisters, to dress her up in the finest of attire and bedeck her with the best jewelleries they can afford.
With her hip-length jacket….long-length silk or satin “ htain-me-thein”, the bride looks somewhat like a princess of the Royal Court in the olden days of the Myanmar kings. And the bridegroom surely looks elegant an handsome in this traditional Myanmar men’s attire which consists of a head-dress called “ gaung baung”, a long sleeve stiff collared shirt, a double length men’s silk longyi called a “ taung shay longyi”, a traditional men’s jacket and a velvet slipper.
It’s a very encouraging and practical custom for the friends and relatives who attend the nuptial ceremony to shower the couple with gifts such as household items and personal affects that will help the marrying couple get on their feet with their life-long journey. To watch parents of the bride and bridegroom heartily welcoming their guests with smiles and handshakes, and observe the wedlock couple give away thank-you card will you warm-up to these delightful traditional customs. The wedding hall is filling up with the invited guests….and as it was the custom in the days of our king to entertain guests with the traditional glass mosaic embedded gold-gilded Myanmar Orchestra. Nowadays, due to time changes, guests are entertained with modern musical instruments. Guests are arriving in full swing; time for the wedding couple to appear is drawing near. You can be sure the bride and groom hearts are beating much faster.
The Master of Ceremony, the person who will consecrate the marriage is now announcing the beginning of the ceremony. Then later, after having recited a special written stanza on the bridal families and shower poetic praises on the bride and groom and then end-up with blessings for the couple to have life-long union and prosperity…at that time the most experienced singer from the band will begin to sing the classical auspicious song, praising the occasion and the participants, a song that befits the occasion.
The flower-girl dips her hand into the silver bowl she’s holding and gently scatter the flowers with the nuptial couple following behind, thread on these flowers, which are meant as good omen, for their life-long union as husband and wife. This is the moment everyone has been waiting for. Now everyone’s attention is drawn towards the couple who are walking down the carpeted lane of the hall this is the auspicious moment! The bride and groom has entered the ceremonial hall, attended by their best men and bridesmaids followed by their parents. Upon reaching the stage and before seating themselves, they turn towards the guests and with hands clasped together; pay their respects with their heads bowed. The garlanding of the auspicious couple is one of the auspicious customs in Myanmar weddings. In ancient days, it was the custom for the bride and groom to garland each other, but nowadays a couple with a long martial standing and of only one marriage, bestows the garlands on the couple, including the wedding rings!
After the wedding rituals are completed…. the guests are treated to refreshments offered by the couple. The married couple warmly greets and thanks the guests who have attended their wedding. The guests in return, bestow on the couple their best wishes, for prosperity and a long and happy married life! After the wedding ceremony, when the married couple arrives home, they pay their respects to parents of both side, according to traditional Buddhists customs, and in turn are blessed by their parents. The “ gei-bo” negotiating begins once the couple tries to enter their bride chamber which by then is blocked by rows of friends and relatives, holding gold chains asking for “ gei-bo” which is pocket-money. A lot of boisterous bargaining and negotiating follows until both sides agree to a negotiated amount. After passing through this last obstacle, the married couple will carry on with their life in building a long lasting and happy marriage for themselves.
Nowadays, the Traditional Weddings usually take place at the Hotels in big cities like Yangon and Mandalay. The hotels have wedding packages for the brides and the grooms. All the family members, friends, associates, colleagues and neighbours are invited to the wedding.
Wedding Ceremony by Offering Food & Alms to The Sangha
On auspicious occasions, offertory is dedicated to Lord Buddha and the assemblage of celestials. The offertory usually contains three or five hands of bananas, one coconut and Eugenia sprigs. The auspicious wedding ceremony by offering food and alms to the Sanghas is also no exemption.
In fact, the bride and groom work hand in hand untiringly to prepare food and other alms for the Sanghas, setting adorable tradition in itself.
Elders from both sides offer sumptuous food and snacks to the Sanghas.
The bride and groom offer food, robe and other alms with the firm belief that it is the harbinger of auspicious and happy life for the future.
It is also unforgettable for the couple to prepare and stuff a silver bowl with cash and confetti for the ceremony.
The Sanghas grace the new home by reciting Parittas to ensure good luck and happiness.
The Sanghas deliver sermons to the gathering, blessing the newly-weds and sharing their meritorious deeds.
To commemorate the successful wedding ceremony, cash and confetti are strewed among the attendees. The guests happily pick up the cash to keep as amulet, which will ward-off the bad and bring in good fortune.
It is a joyous and auspicious occasion for the newly-weds to begin their family life eternally in accord with Myanmar tradition. And it has become the solemn duty of the newly-weds to enrich human society as a wedded couple. They surely will enrich Myanmar way of life and we do hope so.
Court Marriage Ceremony
There are also court marriages usually performed by judges ranging from township to Supreme Court Justices, depending on the wish and accessibility the partners. Wherever the wedding is performed, the couple wants to show and receive acceptance from society that they are eligible and duly married before respectable personages. Here we are presenting the court marriage of a youthful, vibrant and beauteous couple. Not so large a number of guests have already gathered, as the ceremony is to commence soon.
Court marriage requires judge as well as witnesses. The wedding ceremony we are presenting now has the good fortune of having the presiding judge and the witnessing law officer, both of whom are accompanied by their wives. Firstly the bride signed her signature to two copies of the marriage documents and the groom-followed suit. After the witnesses signed, the judge gave his blessing and best wishes and signed in the document and the court register. Thus, the couple became husband and wife legally. With the successful conclusion of the ceremony, the invited guests are having refreshments offered by the newly wed couple. Henceforth, the new couple is going to raise a happy family.
Some Myanmar have adapted the western ideas of the Dinner Receptions too. The couple usually get married at the court and in the evening, they throw a dinner party at the pool side of the hotels in big cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
This way of the wedding includes the parents of both the party and some wear traditional dresses but some with gowns. It is a more lightly way to have fun together with the couple.
Invited guests come to the dinner to wish the bride and the groom to have a happy long life.