04 Oct 2015
Marriage in Thai Tradition – Pouring Nuptial Water (Buddhist weddings)
1. Khan Mak Processing (Items Offered for Engagement)
The wedding merrily starts with the procession of Khan Mak or Items Offered for Engagement, beautifully dressed in their finest, those from the groom’s family start parading to the bride’s house at an auspicious time. Khan Mak Eak and Khan Mak Toe (a basin of betel nut) is set gracefully in decorative Thai style trays along with other items believed to be sacred to the future family such as money, gold, ring, necklace or bracelet. Prepare dessert and fruits two to three days prior to your wedding day. The other things that must be prepared are sugar cane and betel nut.
2. Tray of Engagement (Khan Mark Eak and Khan Mark Toe)
Tray of Engagement consist of Khan Mark Eak and Khan Mak Toe, first tray is full of auspicious substances such as grain, bean, sesame, gold leaf, silver left which represent prosperity, affection and peaceful co-existence. Second Tray is ‘Khan Mak Toe’ consist of a lot of fruits and sweet, set in pair which represent good fortune, prosperity, wealthy, rich, and survival. There is also Third Tray, the tray for respect senior person of their families, consist of a pair of banana trees, a pair of sugar canes and betel nut, decorated with red paper.
3.Groom’s Presents Parade
When the time comes for this auspicious occasion, the groom’s parade led by the matchmaker will walk carrying numerous offerings to the bride’s house and present them to the bride’s parents as a mark of respect. There are no set rules about the parade as each area differs in details.
The parade begins walking when all the offerings and the procession are ready. During the procession, firecrackers are usually lit to the hoot of laughter and sometimes a gun is fired into the sky as a signal sound to the bride that the parade will soon be arriving. Some processions are led by a drum or brass band with elders and the young joining the parade to dance with the band.
When the sounds of hooting and cheering are heard at the bride’s house, the bridesmaid hides the bride in her room, with relatives using strings or lace to bar the entrance. The groom and his matchmaker must therefore be prepared to pay a bridal fee in order to get into the bride’s room. Three doors are normally barred (known as victory, silver and golden gate; or brass, silver and golden gate), and at each door the groom must put an even amount of money into two envelopes for the two people who are on guard, with the final or golden door receiving the largest payment. The setting off of firecrackers and gun firing generally occur when the parade starts, at the middle of the journey and at the bride’s house. Sometimes, the bride’s family also fires a gun or lights a firecracker to welcome the parade.
4. Tray for receiving the groom’s presents
When the parade arrives at the home, the bride’s family will have a prepared tray of betel nuts for the matchmaker, which is usually carried by a young girl or elder relative of the bride. The matchmaker then exchanges the betel nuts on the tray for some presents or money outside the house and after receiving the tray back, the parade is lead inside. The bride’s parents and other seniors will be present to show respect and will talk about the auspicious events of the day. Sometimes, the ceremony is organized by experts called ‘nai khan mhak’ while other elders only joining the parade and acting as persons of importance.
5. Thai marriage at large and definitely the ceremony of traditional
Thai wedding interlinked with an ancient tradition called Sinsod. A custom of paying a dowry (dowery) to compensate a family of bride “for mother’s milk”. This ceremony will be taken place in front of both side parents. The groom’s parent will inform the bride’s for what They have brought for such as money, jewelry etc. Once the bride’s parent accept Sinsod or the gifts, they will spread
Auspicious flowers on the Sinsod for blessing the couple marriage life. After that the bride and groom will exchange their rings as a promising
6. Token Acceptance
Accepting the bride and groom’s token is usually held on prepared chairs or a mattress. Parents sit on the prepared chairs or mattress and the bride and groom will opposite them. The bride and groom will wai (prostrate themselves with hands pressed together) once on a pillow, and then give flowers with a candle and joss sticks to the parents who will bless them and give them presents or money. The token accepting ceremony is finished when the parents tie a sacred thread on their wrists as a token of their love and acceptance.
7. Food offerings to monks
It’s very normal for Thai wedding ceremonies to be in one way or another linked with religion and merit making. The wedding is also linked with the idea of an auspicious act, therefore after the parents have accepted their token, the bride and groom will offer food to the monks who have been invited to the house by host of the ceremony. In the past, even numbers of monks such as four or eight were invited, but nowadays Thais believe that number nine is lucky. Accordingly, nine monks are usually invited, and with one Buddha image at the ceremony this comes to ten, thus making even number. Monks will sit on the left of the altar tables that holds the Buddha image and offerings and which should face to the east or north. (According to Buddhist principals, which are not so strict, the altar table can in fact face in any direction). Ordinarily during Buddhist chanting the host will be the one who lights the candles and joss sticks, but in a wedding ceremony this must be done by the bride and groom. The ritual includes the bride and groom offering a bowl of water and candle to the monks to recite incantations and make holy water, which is later used as nuptial water and held in a conch shell to pour over the bride and groom’s hands.
8. Pouring Nuptial Water Ceremony
After the food offering ceremony and Buddhist chanting the nuptial ceremony begins at a predetermined auspicious time, when the head monk will make the markings on the bride and groom’s forehead. For the groom, the monk can make the marks directly but for the bride, the monk will use the groom’s hands to touch the bride’s forehead as Buddhist monks cannot touch women directly. Once complete the bride and groom will wear a garland on their heads (for convenience some couples may offer food to the monks the day before the ceremony, but the garlands will be put on their heads by parents on the day they pour nuptial water), and are linked together with string about 48 inches long. One end of string is tied to the holy bowl while the other end is held by monks, with the last monk in the row putting the end of the string on a tray in front of the altar tables. Nowadays, the nuptial water ceremony is usually held in the evening and the bride and groom only wear garlands on their heads without the linking of string. During the Buddhist chanting, the bride and groom will sit on a prepared place and put their hands on pillows for their relatives to pour nuptial water over, with the best man and bridesmaid at the back. Relatives and elders will pour nuptial water in order of their seniority, and often the best man and bridesmaid will be similar in age to the bride and groom and have plans of getting married very soon.
9. Bridal Night
The bride’s family must take responsibility for preparing and arranging the bedroom before inviting a senior couple, relatives or not, who have lived a happily married life with wealth and honor and who are respected by many people, to be the first persons to make the bed. Nowadays parents of the bride and groom are the ones to deliver them to the bedroom.
When making the bed, ceremonial objects such as a green marrow that represents a cool-heart; a new pot containing water signifying unity and firmness with beans and sesame seeds inside representing prosperity; and a bride-price are placed on a tray next to the bed so as to bless the newly wed couple. The couple lies on the bed during the inauguration, with the lady on the left side and the man on the right and must only speak of good things on the bed for good luck.
Notes on bed making
The couple who make the bed must be selected by the bride and groom’s parents and must be respected persons who have had an ideal married life so as to act as role models for the newly weds. The bed making ceremony in no way signifies that in the future the bride and groom will have a servant to do this job for them, in actual fact the bed is already completely made; the invited couple just make it for form’s sake.
Preparation for the Bridal Night
– Tray of popped rice and flowers
– Ceremonial objects namely a walking stick, green marrow and grinding stone
– Holy water for sprinkling over the bed
– Flower decoration in the form of a heart on the bed