By Richard Barrow | Posted in Thai Culture
|Thai Wedding Making Merit|
There are an increasing number of foreigners who are marrying Thai women or Thai men. And according to our ThailandQA.com Forums, there are also many people coming to Thailand to attend weddings as guests as they are asking questions like “What do we wear to a Thai wedding” and “What gift do we give the bride and bridegroom?”. As I was at a Thai wedding last weekend, I thought I would share with you some of my photos. I was the official photographer (I also do funerals but that is another story) so I took about 1,900 pictures on this day. I have been to quite a few weddings in Thailand, so I will try my best to give you an explanation of a typical wedding. These may vary throughout the country but most of them typically have the same elements. In urban areas the wedding might only last for one day, but upcountry the celebrations often go on for three or four days. These are pictures of a typical wedding in Central Thailand.
A Thai wedding in Thailand is not your typical wedding that you may have experienced in your home country. There is no church wedding as such as the first ceremony usually takes place at the home of the bride or the new home of the wedding couple. Traditionally, an odd number of monks, usually nine, are invited to bless the home of the wedding couple and also all of the participants in the upcoming wedding. The wedding cannot take place on just any month of the year or even day or time. Auspicious months for a wedding are usually days in the waxing phase of the moon on the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and twelve lunar months.
These are all even months as the number two represents the couple to be married. The ninth lunar month is also considered to be lucky. However, you should never get married in the tenth lunar month as it is considered very unlucky for your marriage. This is to do with dogs who are usually in heat at that time of the year. No-one wants to be associated with copulating dogs. Once the month is chosen, they then consult an astrologer who will then choose the precise date and time for the ceremonies to start.
The monks are invited early in the morning. Usually for this part of the ceremony, only close family and friends might attend. The five precepts are first recited and then the monks chant auspicious text from the scriptures. While this is being done, some water in a bowl, with a candle dripping over it, is being made sacred. At the completion of the chanting, the wedding couple simultaneously, again representing their unity, offer food to each of the monks. After the monks have finished their meal, the couple then make another offering of flowers, money in an envelope and essential items for every day life for the monks. Any merit made during this ceremony is then passed onto ancestors and absent relatives by doing “kruat nam”, where water is poured from a container slowly into a bowl. The head monk will then mark the foreheads of the couple with three dots using paste which was blessed during the ceremony. He then blesses the couple with the holy water.
As the monk departs, he will sprinkle water over the other guests. To receive the blessing in a proper manner, you need to put your hands together in a prayer-like gesture.
As you can see by the above picture, most guests are sitting outside the house at round tables. They are being served food and drinks. Though, strictly speaking, they cannot start eating until after the monks have finished their own meal. Inside the house were the parents and grandparents of the couple to be married. Everyone else was outside. When you receive a wedding invitation, you will often have the times for three different ceremonies. Quite often these days, they are held on the same day. For this wedding, the ceremony to be blessed by the monks and to make merit started at 7 a.m. and lasted over 90 minutes. It might be a bit boring with all the chanting and if you are not a Buddhist then there isn’t much you can do other than eat and drink. In addition, you will most likely be sitting outside so will only be able to hear the chanting.
Most people don’t turn up for this part. Or, if they do, they will arrive late. You don’t have to wear anything formal, just something smart. This is now the end of the first part of the wedding day. The couple are not married yet. They have just received a blessing from the monks. The monks now leave and don’t take part in the next ceremony.
Related Blogs and Articles: Probably the most famous Thai Wedding on the Internet was of Thailand’s famous Internet teenager, Panrit “Gor” Daoruang. You can read all about his wedding and see the photos at thailandlife.com. About three years ago, I wrote a popular blog called How to Get Married Cheaply. It was a kind of mass wedding ceremony where a group of couples got married at the same time. Our Steve wrote about his own wedding in a blog called Getting Married……In Thailand and our resident Thai blogger, Oakmonster, writer about her Thai wedding in America in Temple of Love. Finally, if you are dating a Thai girl or boy, then you might find our Relationships Forum useful as it helps with cultural misunderstanding and procedures like meeting the family for the first time. You need to register to see this forum. It is quick and free to do so