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Buddhist weddings

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by Paula Jones

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Buddhist wedding traditions include a blessing for the happy couple. Here’s what you need to know…

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There is no set wedding service in the Buddhist faith, as the Buddha (founder of the religion) did not consider marriage to be a sacred ceremony. Instead, marriage is considered a social rather than religious occasion.

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The Buddha stated only that marriage should be based on deep mutual respect between partners and that it should be a partnership of equals (a remarkably progressive standpoint, bearing in mind the low status of women in India at the time). Buddhists can marry anyone from any religion and their union should be a harmonious blend of the differing strengths and abilities of the man and woman.
What happens at a Buddhist wedding?

A Buddhist marriage ceremony is secular in nature and takes place in a register office or one of the few Buddhist temples licensed as a legal marriage venue. The London Buddhist Vihara is one of them.

    as there is no set format, the wedding is usually influenced by the customs of the country in which it is taking place.
    some couples choose to have a Buddhist blessing in a temple after their civil ceremony.

Planning your Buddhist wedding
Setting the date

    Buddhists can get married at any time, depending on the hours of the chosen register office or temple.
    there are no days on which it is forbidden for Buddhists to marry. However, all Buddhists should know the Buddha’s teachings on the mutual obligations and duties of a husband and a wife.
    there are no forms to fill in either ‐‐ these will be dealt with at the register office.

Planning your Buddhist blessing

    the blessing ceremony in the temple can take place at any time, at the convenience of the individual venue. No notice is required for your blessing, other than to ask the temple if the proposed time is convenient.
    you do not need to attend any meetings with the monks prior to your blessing.
    there is no blessing rehearsal.

Guests at a Buddhist wedding

People of all religions are welcome to attend a Buddhist blessing service, as long as each guest respects the traditions of the Buddhist faith.
What to wear at a Buddhist wedding

The bride, groom and guests are free to wear whatever they like, as long as it is not too revealing. The bride usually wears a dress and the groom a suit.

Guests should be aware that they must behave respectfully towards the Buddhist monks in the temple and should remove their shoes before entering the shrine room.
What happens at a Buddhist wedding blessing

The blessing ceremony takes place in the shrine room of the Buddhist temple.

    The ceremony lasts about half an hour, during which time ordained monks chant from Buddhist sacred texts in the Pali language.
    The style of chanting has been handed down since the time of the Buddha. The guests and wedding couple listen and observe, but do not participate. For this reason there are no service sheets.
    Confetti is not thrown as it has no place in Buddhist culture.
    There is no organist or choir, other than the monks themselves.
    Photographs and videotapes of the ceremony are allowed.
    After the blessing, the couple and guests would usually go to a reception. As there are no hard‐and‐fast marriage traditions in the Buddhist faith, what happens next is entirely up to the couple!