In Sri Lanka the traditional Hindu Wedding is conducted for several days but we also have shorter versions performed in the Hindu Temples and in most hotels in the country. Since many Destination weddings are conducted with a traditional Poruwa ceremony or Traditional Hindu ceremonies are performed in shorter form especially if the couple comes from abroad to celebrate their wedding in Sri Lanka. Even the shorter form is somewhat long. We can always shorten the event without leaving out the important aspects of the ceremony.
Even though the ritual is generally in Sanskrit you can perform in other limited recognized languages. A Hindu priest will normally conduct the ceremony and like the Latin Mass, very often only the Priest will understand the language. Any person who is familiar with the wedding rituals can perform the ceremony especially if a Hindu Priest is not available in the country or locality the wedding takes place.
The Bride, the Groom and their parents and the bride’s and Groom’s party will have some important parts to play. Similar to the Poruwa Ceremony the Master of Ceremonies, in this case the Hindu Priest himself. Like the Jayamangala girls a few women dressed for the occasion will sing the traditional Slokas or songs to bless the couple.
Unless if the wedding is conducted in a Hindu Temple (Where the temple will undertake the decorations) a special Mandop will be set up in the Garden of the Hotel. (The Mandop can also be set up inside the Hotel) Even though the normal practice is for the Bride and Groom to sit on a mat inside the canopy (mandop) it is possible for them to sit on decorated chairs. The more important aspect is the fire that is set up in front of the Mandop. If the ceremony is held inside the Hotel Reception Hall the fire is lighted in a small vestibule. Outside it can be a little larger. Most Hotels in Sri Lanka are located in Beach arrears and the wind will play a part in how safely the fire is located. If this traditional ceremony is to be conducted in other countries, especially in the US, you may have to consult the local authority to get permission to light a fire.
The Poruwa Ceremony was influenced by Hindu Culture and you will see the similarities if you read the Page 1 Traditional Poruwa ceremony.
To conduct the Hindu Wedding you will need Garlands and Rings and gifts to be exchanged by the Groom and Bride, a necklace for the bride. The Groom also gives gifts to the Brides Brother and from the Brides Mother to the Groom. In the event these relatives are not available, close relatives may be substituted. As mentioned before the Fire is very essential and also a sacred rope that will be tied in a loop to the Grooms and Brides finger. Coconut, Rice and flowers and the red paste that is applied to the forehead and pots of water for washing the hands and feet.
The Bride generally wears a bright red sari with her hair covered by the sari in a drape. She may also have her hands and feet painted with a pigment that is available in the salons in Sri Lanka. This may eventually wear off but it cannot be washed off in a hurry. The longer it lasts it is considered better for the marriage.
The Groom wears the traditional long cloth with a white long shirt and a turban if so desired.
To enter the Mandop the Bride and Groom and any other should remove their shoes, therefore it is a good idea to wear slip on shoes. In any event you have to take off your shoes before entering the Mandop. Please do not forget this important tradition.
Now we have the essentials for the wedding to begin its long and sacred ritual.
As is the custom in all weddings, the groom is expected to be the first to arrive. He will hold a coconut and the Garland for the Bride. The WedInSriLanka coordinator will make sure that the grooms party that are not participating in the ceremony are seated and the others are lined up suitably. In Sri Lanka weddings, an elephant and a musical ensemble of Tamil or Hindu Tradition will escort the Groom.
It is customary for the Brides Mother to greet the Groom and anoint him by placing with a “kumkum” on his forehead and the groom will bow and give the mother a coconut. The Brides mother and father will now escort the groom and his bestman, to the Mandop where his other party is already assembled. The groom will now be in the Mandop awaiting the arrival of his bride.
The bride, escorted by the bridal party will now arrive. She will carry the Garland for the Groom. It is the Maternal Uncle who will generally bring the bride to the mandop. Her parents have already arrived to greet the groom. Once the Groom and Bride are seated in the Mandop facing each other the Master of Ceremonies (Priest) will invoke the vows of marriage and the group of girls will chant the special songs invoking the Gods.
The bride and groom will now garland each other starting with the bride garlanding the groom first. The bride’s mother and father respectively will wash the hands and feet of the bride and groom.
At this point the brides father will address the guests asking for their blessings for the couple. The groom and bride will accept each other by name as wife and husband respectively. The Priest will bless the rings and the groom and bride will place the rings on each others fingers. The priest will now place the sacred rope on the necks of the groom and bride and proclaim them as Husband and Wife. Once this is final the Bride and Groom will sit next to each other rather than facing each other. The final acknowledgement is when the Brides Father takes the hand of his daughter and places it on the Son in Laws.
The celebration will continue with the priest. The bride’s brother will now place the rice on the extended and cupped hands of the bride which is placed on top of the grooms. They will then drop the rice on the fire and walk around the fire four time while the priest chants the prayers of blessing.
The couple will quickly take their seats and then some exchange of gifts may take place after which the couple will take seven steps while the priest chants the blessings of the seven steps. While these steps may vary according to the wishes of the couple the couple may feed each other four times with sweets and also the husband may now place a necklace on the wife’s neck. Photo ops and greetings and reception will follow.
Additionally the following should be noted.
The relatives greet the couple and the couple greets the elder relatives by touching the feet after they finish with the ceremony at the entrance to the Mandop.
The relatives who are seated join in the singing of the blessing songs that are sung thought the ceremony. They also throw flowers as the couple goes round the fire. The flowers should be provided to the relatives’ beforehand to do this.
During the ceremony sweets, drinks and samosas are served to the relatives as this short version also goes on for about 2 hours or three hours depending on the couple’s preferences.
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