Traditional Wedding Ceremony of Mystic Myanmar
Love is said to be a part of providence according to Myanmar folklore. The god Brahma is said to have written the fates of love on a child’s forehead as soon as the child reaches six days old. The people of Myanmar still continue to hold onto this belief with reverence.
In Christian countries, wedding ceremonies are considered religious in nature where God takes the center of the union between a man and a woman, veritably seeking divine grace and blessings. In Myanmar however where Buddhism is the prevailing belief a wedding is not considered such. Buddhism has divided its celebrations into two categories: the lokiya, which is of the secular affair and the lokuttara, the celebration which is of a more spiritual nature. The latter, is celebrated during ordination and novice sacraments, while the former are reserved for birthdays, birth or ear-piercing ceremony for the girls. And of course, a wedding ceremony is part of the lokiya.
The ceremonial word for marriage in Myanmar language is mingala saung. Mingala means lucky or good omen, combined with saung, which means to carry. The act of getting married has another term “ein htaung chya deir”, albeit with humorous connotation, meaning “imprisoned”. Well, there’s actually a fine line between the two, isn’t there…
Another interesting observation is that Myanmar weddings are not officiated by monks but by either the groom or the bride’s family. An official person serving the government can conduct the rites as well. A Myanmar mayar or bride need not give dowries. The husband or lin, can give gifts of gold or if in far flung villages, a number of cattle but this is not mandatory. The mayar is dressed in all her finery, reminiscent of royalty. The dress is made of fine, delicate silk and adorned with sequins, beads and pearls giving it that glittery look. The men would wear a long sleeve collared shirt and a traditional man’s jacket and velvet slippers. On their heads are gaung baung which is essentially a turban that is made of silk. It is wrapped around the head in a clockwise manner and the tongue tucked in on the left side. The chosen colors sometimes depend on the wealth and rank and even the tribal race of the couple.
The giving of garland to the couple is an important piece of the ceremony. This is usually given by another couple of longstanding and has only been married once.
The wedding dates are usually steered clear of Buddhist lent which is from the months of July to October. The bride and groom sit beside each other in plush cushions. The officiating is a Brahmin. At the start of the ceremony, the Brahmin would blow a conch shell as a signal for the wedding to start. He then wraps the hands of the couple in a piece of white cloth and immerses the joined hands in a silver cup or bowl. The Brahmin would intone mantras in Sanskrit then he would take the couple’s entwined hands from the bowl, puffs the conch shell again to indicate that the ceremony has ended.