Today I am in mood of writing about marriage reception as I just attended western style wedding at beach and there are many things pop up in my mind, difference between western culture and Myanmar culture. I attended many wedding receptions, which are held according to different culture and custom. I would love to share some of the lovely custom of Myanmar traditional wedding, how Myanmar people regard the marriage and celebrate the wedding.
We say in Myanmar that when a man and woman fall in love with each other and turns into the right age, the parents have responsibilities to create a new life for them by holding a wedding reception. For Myanmar people, holding wedding reception is very important and significant for their life as it is only one and forever unforgettable memories. So, Myanmar people prepare the wedding seriously. Nowadays, it becomes a trend to make at least five receptions, which will be a little bit weird in western culture.
These are engagement ceremony, signing ceremony, wedding ceremony at monastery by offering food and alms to monks, traditional style Burmese wedding and dinner reception. To complete all of these ceremonies, it takes at least one month or more and nearly one year preparation for all of these events. As I mentioned before, these are the least one for a couple, some of the people do more than that. Can you guess other additional one?? If the couples are from different area of Myanmar, for example, one is from Yangon and the other one is from Mandalay. They will hold additional wedding reception in both areas either traditional style or dinner reception. So, if you are in relationship, you better think about wedding cost before deciding to marry. This is one of the reasons people marry late. Don’t worry I am just joking, Myanmar people can accept you as officially married couple even though you just do one reception.
These are some basic things you must need to know about Myanmar tradition and custom. According to Myanmar Lunar Calendar, the wedding reception won’t be held during the Vassa period, which falls from July to October. So, you will see most of the wedding invitation card before or just after the Vassa months. There are a lot to explain about each and every detail of preparing the wedding, so, I will focus only on two. If you want to know more, just ask me, I will be your wedding planner. LOL
Wedding Reception at monastery by offering food and alms to monks
This reception is mostly held after signing ceremony and before the traditional style wedding. Actually, the real tradition is that the bride and groom need to prepare food and offertory alms dedicating to Buddha by themselves and offer these to monks by making an auspicious time. We believe that this kind of act will create happiness in the fiuture life of the couple. Indeed, preparing food for monks by their hand will be one of the best memories in life.
However, although the tradition is that way, when the time changes, it becomes a little bit different compared to before. Nowadays, the couple can’t prepare all the food by themselves, as many guests will be also invited. But the offering of wardrobes, alms and food to the monks is still considered as an auspicious occasion. The monks also deliver sermon and blessing to the newly married couple.
It’s one of the graceful and joyful moments to start the new stage of life according to Myanmar tradition. We also hope that getting blessing from Buddha will grant the couple a happy life forever.
Traditional style Burmese reception
This reception is held after the reception at the monastery and is the biggest event. Most of the traditional receptions are hold in the morning or in the afternoon but are rarely held in the evening. Fortuneteller or someone who knows the astrology will decide the date and time of the reception to be in auspicious time. Even though the reception is traditional style, it is held in high-end hotel. The invitation cards are distributed a month in advance so the guest can prepare to attend the ceremony.
For this ceremony, the bride and the groom wear traditional costume. The bride wears a dress, which includes top, and long lengths silk longgyi which is called Hta-Ma’thein and both are decorated with glittering things to be bright and beautiful. The hairstyle is also unique because it is ancient style and decorated with beautiful jewelry. The bride also wears the best jewelries they can afford. The groom wears a traditional style double length silk long gyi, which is called Taung Shay and a traditional man wear on top. The groom also carries a kind of hairband, which is called Gaung: Paung.
When the auspicious time comes, the master of ceremony announces the start of the ceremony and then the bride and groom walk in to the stage. During that time, there is a singer accompanying with a Burmese classic song.
This is the most exciting time for everyone. The red carpet walk is lead by flower-girl who scatter the flower mostly jasmine on the way, behind flower-girl there will be one or two girls who carry silvery tray including rings and things to commemorate the traditional ritual on the stage, after that the bride and the groom walk in with beautiful smile. Behind bride and groom, the bridesmaid and the best men followed and a last parents from both side. All the people on the red carpet wear the same color as bride and groom and the most popular colors for Myanmar wedding are white, pink, yellow or gold.
When the bride and the groom arrive on the stage, they first pay respect to the guests. Then, the master of ceremony leads the ceremony by reciting special written words, praising groom and bride with poetic words and end it by blessing the couple. The eldest couple amongst the guest will lead the traditional hand tying ceremony which is called Su-Lyar-Yit-Pat, the hand of the bride and the groom are dipped into the silver bowl and the elders tie their hand with thread and pouring water on the hand for blessing. The master of ceremony leads the traditional ritual, which last 5 to 10 minutes. After that, the elder couple exchanges the couple rings and festoon of flower at the end. When it is done, the master of ceremony announced the successful commemoration of wedding event and thanks the guests.
After the ceremony, the guests are treated with refreshment. The couple is going around to give a warm greeting and thanks the entire guest for attending the wedding. The guests also wish to the couple the best for their life together. Before leaving, the bride and groom and all the relatives on both sides take a memorial picture of the ceremony.
There is another small event with the friends of the couple participating. When the couple enters into the bride chamber, a row of friends block the doorway by holding a gold strings and making a golden door way. The people ask some pocket money (gei-bo:) to open the door, the couple needs to negotiate the pocket money. It’s a very funny and joyful moment for the couple and for their friends. This event is done after the traditional style wedding or sometimes after the dinner party. Some couple tries to avoid the gei-bo: by silently disappearing in dinner party while their friends are drank. In my friend wedding, they tried to avoid gei-bo: after the dinner party by planning to run away without telling where is the bride chamber. But all the friends kept an eye on them continuously and ran behind them and make a golden doorway in front of the bride chamber. So, we increased to ask more pocket money as they tried to cheat. After successfully passing the last doorway, the couple can enter the new stage of their life and live happily ever after.
To make a successful and organized wedding, the couple needs to prepare everything long ahead with a wedding planner. After reading this post, please do not think that Myanmar.