What is a Thai Traditional Marriage?
Aspects of Thai Traditional Marriage are various; however, not all of the traditions lasts until the present. The forms of the ceremony can be arranged as the couple or their families wish. The traditions vary depending on the regions of Thailand. However, we shall try to present hereunder the alived common practice in the central Thailand.
The engagement ceremony certainly takes place before the wedding. Nevertheless, many couples arrange this ceremony on the day of the wedding as it is practical and economical.
In most cases, the Thai wedding ceremony is non-religious even though monks may be involved.
Indeed, no vow is announced but the ceremony has a strong symbolic aspect insuring a good start for the newlyweds.
To insure happiness and prosperity, the date and time of the ceremony must be chosen carefully. The couple may consult a monk or an astrologer to verify that their stars are compatible.
The invitations shall mention the commencing time of the ceremonies; however, only the parents and close friends of the newlyweds would attend the monk blessing in the morning.
A boudhist ceremony does not construe a legal status of the marriage. For that purpose, the registration of the marriage must take place at any District Office.
How the Buddhist ceremony and the merit making are set?
Giving is something very important for the Buddhists and especially for special occasion like the marriage. Inviting the monks to the ceremony assure spiritual credit to the young couple thanks to the donation given to the monks. Additional way would be to liberate animals. This practice is often done by liberating caged birds or releasing fish or turtles back to the nature. For Buddhists in Thailand, it is widely accepted that donation (of money, food...) to a local temple will assure an eternal love.
Sometimes, the young couple may simply go to a temple but they may also invite monks in odd number (3,5,7 or 9) to visit them.
The boudhist ceremony commence very early (generally between 05:00 and 07:00) the monks pray while a lit candle is placed above a bowl of holy water. This water will later be used by the senior monk to bless the couple and the attended guests with a small branch. After the praying, the couple would offer a meal to the monks before leaving the hall to allow the monks to have their meal. No one is allowed to eat until the monks terminate their meal.
After the meals, the monks resume the pray and the senior monk blesses the couple with the holy water and uses a white powder stick to make three dots on the groom's forehead prior to taking the groom's hand to make the same dots on the bride's forehead (“Jerm”).
Then, the monks leave back to the temple. Depending on the arrangement of the wedding, generally the groom's parade will start afterwards.
What is the Khan Maak parade?
Traditionally, in Thai culture, the families of the couple discuss about the dowry (sinsod) prior to the engagement day. Once the amount is agreed, the engagement may then take place. The engagement ceremony starts by the groom forming the parade comprising his family and friends bringing the dowry and other necessary elements of the engagement to the bride's residence. Traditionally, the parade shall depart from the groom's residence to the bride's residence; however, nowadays the Khan Maak parade often proceeds few steps away from where the engagement ceremony takes place on the wedding day. The procession is a very joyful moment and sometimes accompanied by musicians who play long traditional trombones while dancing on the way to the bride's house. Once the parade arrives at the bride's house, the way is generally closed by the symbolic doors.
What is the Gate Passing ceremony?
To prove that the groom is at the top and financially stable who will be able to take a good care of his spouse, he must passing through the symbolic gates before reaching the bride's parents. The gates are closed by a chain of gold or silver held by two young ladies who are closed to the bride. To open each gate, the groom must give them a key in the form of money in an envelop. The gate guardians may make it even more difficult to pass through by demanding more money. A number of the gates may vary depending on one region to another, but in general there are at least two gates: the golden gate (Pratoo Thong) and the silver gate (Pratoo Ngeurn).
Once all the gates are open to the groom and his parade, the groom's family shall offer the dowry along with other presents, including a pair of banana trees which represent the fertility, a pair of canes which represents sweetness and a couple of trays of fresh meats, fruits and desserts to pay respect to the ancestor who passed away. Some grooms might also offer presents to the bride's parents. The dowry will then be inspected by the bride's mother.
How is arranged the dowry?
Traditionally, prior to the engagement ceremony, when the groom wishes to marry the bride, he would ask a senior citizen he respects to ask for permission to marry the bride from the bride's parents. The bride's parents will then demand how much the dowry would be. The dowry may include money, gold, house, land and other valuable assets. The original concept of dowry is for the groom to prove that he is financially stable, and will be able to take care of the bride in the future, and also to thank the parents of the bride for raising her. How significant the dowry would be depends much on many factors including the social status of the groom and the bride. It is impossible to say what the fair amount would be. In modern family, the bride's parents would give the dowry to the bride or the couple to allow them to start their wedded life comfortably.
Once the dowry is counted, the bride's parent will allow the groom to finally meet his bride. The couple will afterwards exchange rings.
What is the Holy thread for?
After the rings exchange, the parents will tie a holy thread (« Sai Sin ») on the wrist of the couples. In some region, the guests will as well put a holy thread on the couple's wrist to bless them good luck. These threads shall be kept at least for three days for the luck to come true.
What is the Water Blessing ceremony?
The next step of the Thai wedding ceremony shall be proceeded either by the parents of the groom and the bride themselves or by a respectful happily married senior couple. The newlyweds shall be sitting next to each otherwith the groom on the rightfacing either North or East. Then, the parents or the senior couple, as the case may be, shall then place the “Circles of Luck (Saii Monkol)” made with white thread in a form of two circles linked by think thread, which was blessed by monks during the monk blessing ceremony earlier, on the heads of the newlyweds and flower garlands around the necks of the couple. Saii Monkol represents that from now on the destiny of couple is bonded while their individual spirit is maintained.
Afterwards, the parents or the senior couple shall use a shell (Sang in Thai) to pour the scented flower-garnished holy water (Rod Nam in Thai) onto the hands of the groomstarting from a wrist towards the tips of his hands - and then the bride while blessing them. The guests shall then proceed to bless the wedded couple and pour the water onto their hands individually. Please note that only the guests who are older than the couple shall attend the water blessing ceremony.
What is the Bridal Bed ceremony?
This traditional ritual ceremony is still widely followed. Rueanthai Raminthra-wedding villa offers a nicely decorated bedroom for the couple to complete the ceremony. This ceremony is generally attended by the family members only. The same senior couple as in the previous step will make the bed and throw flower and rice grains on the bed. The elder couple represents a long and fruitful union that shall be transmitted to the newlyweds. Money, along with other meaningful items, will be placed on the bed to wish the newlyweds wealth. A cock represents the diligence; a cat represents the family-orientation; a stone mortar represents the strength of the couple to be able to walk through any trouble they might face in the marital life; a cane represents long life; a gourd represents equanimity of the couple; grain seeds represent the vitality. The senior couple then lies down on the bed pretending to be asleep for a short while. The newlyweds, after being blessed, will do just the same and later wake up to tell their spouse that they dream about a bright future with money and children.
What about the evening ceremony?
The wedding reception in Thailand is generally attended by a number of guests whom the wedded couple might not even know. The guests are not required to respond to the invitation. It is common that the guests bring along a friend or a family. The reception normally commence at around 18:00-19:00.
Upon arrival at the venue, the guests will find a reception table where they may deposit their envelop of money with their names written on into a box and sign the blessing book for the couple. Guests normally offer money as a present to the couple. An amount depends much on what your social status is and how close you are to them or their family.
Afterwards, the guests may take photos with the newlyweds.
The meal may be offered in various styles: cocktail party; buffet or a sit-down dinner. During the course of dinner, a senior guestor morewill be invited to give a speech and give a toast to the couple. The couple will then proceed to the cake-cutting and offer a piece to their parents, their senior family members and some senior guests. The reception usually ends early at around 21:30. So if you intend to have a party until late at night, you should organize an after-party.