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The Traditional Sri Lanka Poruwa Ceremony
Buddhist Weddings are influenced by the Hindu culture which gives prominence to ‘Nekath’, the auspicious times. The ‘Nekatha' is derived from the horoscopes of the bride and groom that is created based on their dates and times of birth
Of the many traditional events that take place during a Buddhist wedding, the ‘Poruwa’ ceremony is the most important. The Nekath strictly guides the ceremony. 'Poruwa’ is a beautifully decorated wooden platform on which the traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony takes place. This event is called the ‘Poruwa Siritha' (Ceremony). The Poruwa Siritha appears to have existed in Sri Lanka before the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd Century B.C. Through the ages; many innovations have been introduced to the Poruwa Siritha. By and large, the men and women of present day society realize the value of their heritage and are motivated to protect and preserve traditions of their past for posterity. The Poruwa Siritha was as valid custom as a registered marriage until the British introduced the registration of marriages by Law in 1870. Today's Poruwa Siritha has been influenced by both upcountry and low country customs of Sri Lanka.
Long Form
1. The bride's nephew washes the groom's feet symbolizing that the brides family welcomes the groom to their fold. The groom drops a ring in to the bowl containing water, symbolizing gratitude towards that welcome.
2. The groom and his family will assemble on the left of the Poruwa, while the bride and her family assemble on the right.
3. The couple will then enter the Poruwa leading with the right foot accompanied by their respective fathers. The groom and bride will then greet each other with palms held together in the traditional manner.
4. The Asthaka (master of ceremonies) presents a hand of betel leaves to the couple, which they accept and hand back to him to be placed at an elevated position on the Poruwa. This symbolizes the offering of betel to gods. In Sri Lankan Buddhist custom a sheaf of betel (botanical name Piper betle ) is offered as a token of respect in all ceremonial occasions
5. The bride's father takes the brides hand and places it on the right hand of the groom as a symbolic gesture of handing over the bride to the groom. (This is a very solemn moment)
6. The groom's best man, hands a tray to the groom with fourteen sheaves of betel leaves each with a coin in the middle (the custom may vary). The groom holds the tray while the bride takes one sheaf at a time and drops it on the Poruwa. The groom repeats this process. This is a custom carried out to remember seven generations of relatives on each side.
7. The best man then hands a necklace to the groom who in turn places it around the bride's neck and locks it very carefully.
8. The groom and bride exchanges wedding rings handed to them by the best man and the bride's brother. The rings are placed on the fourth finger of the left hand.
9. An uncle of the bride then enters the Poruwa and ties the small fingers of bride and groom with a gold thread and then pours water over the fingers. Water and earth being the eternal verities, the water so poured and the earth on which it falls are intended to be the lasting witnesses to the marriage. The uncle then turns the couple clockwise, three times, on the Poruwa.
10. Next the groom presents to his bride a sari, which she will then present to her mother. This is an expression of the groom's gratitude to his mother-in-law for bringing up her daughter (The Bride)
11. Next the groom's mother will present the going away outfit. Traditionally the going away outfit is a sari. The groom hands the dress over to the bride who in turn will hand it over to her sister.
12. The brides sister will then present a plate of milk rice and kavum (traditional sweets), cooked with special ingredients befitting a marriage ceremony, to the groom who feeds a piece of each to the bride. The bride will then feed a piece of each to the groom in return. This is a symbolic pledge to take care of each other for life.
13. The newly weds will present a sheaf of betel to both parents. The groom and bride will worship their parents with bended knees.
14. The newly weds will present a gift to the brides uncle who tied the thread.
15. Four Girls dressed in "half saris" sing "Jayamangala Gatha" these are wedding songs invoking blessings from Buddhist Scriptures. Half sari is a traditional outfit worn by young girls in Sri Lanka.
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