Marriage in Buddhism is neither seen as holy or unholy; it is seen as more secular and an individual choice. Even so, aspects of Buddhism are essential to the ceremony itself. There are certain elements that are represented throughout the ceremony, such as incense and prayer flags to facilitate a “positive place.” For protection, there are small statues of Buddha placed among the ceremony and to symbolize the couple’s connectedness, there are red strings tied into knots. One thing that is also particular to Buddhist wedding that isn’t as present in other religions is a vegetarian menu, due to the fact that Buddhists believe in the “non-harming of life.” There are also a lot of water features which symbolize purity and lotus flowers are often present.
Depending on the country of origin, the main colors in the wedding are different. For China, these colors include red, gold and crimson. However, Japan and Korea prefer black and gray. Women are required to wear a bhaku and a hanju; these clothing items are made of fine material such as silk. The bride also is embellished with a copious amount of jewelry. The groom also wears a bhaku but with a lajah, instead of a hanju.
During the Wedding Ceremony
The first thing the couple does as they enter the ceremony is to bow in front of the image of the Buddha. They recite prayers and chants and then light candles and incense. The couple will then take the red strings as previously stated, and loop them into a knot. The couple will give offerings to the temple and the monks in the form of flowers, food, sweets, and money. The monks will bless the couple, and in some traditions a red paste is smeared across the foreheads of the bride and groom.
One thing that is essential in a Buddhist wedding, while all other aspects are not particularly set in stone, is that the marriage itself is “based on deep mutual respect between partners and that it should be a partnership of equals” (Paula Jones, Confetti). This means that both the man and the woman are expected to work together in a blend of strengths and weaknesses.
- “Buddhist Wedding.” Culture India. Accessed May 15, 2016. http://www.culturalindia.net/weddings/regional-weddings/buddhist-wedding.html
- “Buddhist Wedding Customs.” Buddhist Matrimony. Accessed May 12, 2016. http://www.buddhistmatrimony.com/articles/wedding-customs-buddhist.php
- “Buddhist Wedding Ideas and Rituals.” Vibrant Table Catering and Events. Published October 27, 2011. http://vibranttable.com/inspiring-idea s/buddhist-wedding-ideas-rituals/
- “History of Buddhism.” About Buddhism. Accessed May 13, 2016. http://www.aboutbuddhism.org/history-of- buddhism.htm/
- Jones, Paula. “Buddhist Weddings.” Confetti. Published June 6, 2006. http://www.confetti.co.uk/wedding-ceremonies/buddhist-weddings
- Mather, George A., Nichols, Larry A., and Alvin J. Schmidt. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects, and world Religions, Edited by Kurt Van Gorden. Michigan: Zondervah, 2006.