Buddhist Wedding Traditions

Buddhist Wedding Traditions

Buddhist wedding traditions vary greatly depending on the branch of Buddhism and where it is practiced. In general, Buddhist weddings are secular affairs and therefore have no rigid requirements. Instead, couples are free to plan the event as they see fit. Below are some common practices that are unique to Buddhist weddings. 

An Auspicious Day 

In many Buddhist cultures astrology is considered important. Therefore an astrologist is often consulted to help the couple find a favorable date and time of day for the wedding ceremony. 

A Morning Offering 

The bride and groom often rise early on their wedding day to prepare food to offer to the Buddhist monks. This food is given to the monks on their early rounds to create merit and ensure good luck for the new union. Offerings of flowers, incense and candles are also traditional. 

The Poruwa 

A traditional Buddhist ceremony takes place on a beautifully decorated wooden platform called a “poruwa.” The poruwa may be decorated with pots of flowers at the corners, white flowers woven into a canopy and white silk. 

The Blessings of the Buddha 

Most Buddhist ceremonies begin with an offering to the Buddha. A Buddha sculpture may be placed on an altar and adorned with flowers, incense and candles. 

Traditional Buddhist Readings 

Traditional marriage vows are outlined in the Sigilovdda Sutta

For the bridegroom: “Towards my wife I undertake to love and respect her, be kind and considerate, be faithful, delegate domestic management, provide gifts to please her.” 

For the bride: “Towards my husband I undertake to perform my household duties efficiently, be hospitable to my in-laws and friends of my husband, be faithful, protect and invest our earnings, discharge my responsibilities lovingly and conscientiously.” 

At the beginning of the ceremony it is customary for the bride and groom to recite the Vandana, Tisarana and Pancasila (traditional Buddhist texts). 

At the close of the ceremony the entire assembly or the newlywed’s parents often chant the Mangala Sutta and Jayamangala Gatha (Great Verses of Joyous Victory) as a blessing to the new couple.

The Mangala Sutta 

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s park. Then a certain deva, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, approached the Blessed One. On approaching, having bowed down to the Blessed One, she stood to one side. As she stood to one side, she addressed him with a verse. 

Many deities and humans, yearning after good, 

have reflected on Blessings. 

Pray, tell me the Supreme Blessings. 

Not to follow or associate with the foolish, 

to associate with the wise, 

and honour those who are worthy of honour. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

To reside in a civilised place, 

to have done meritorious actions in the past, 

and to have set oneself on the right course 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

A good education, accomplished in many skills, 

well disciplined 

and pleasant speech

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

The support of mother and father, 

the cherishing of spouse and children 

and peaceful occupations. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

Liberality, righteous conduct, 

the helping of relatives 

and blameless action. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

To cease and abstain from evil, 

to avoid intoxicants 

and steadfastness in virtue. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

Patience, humility, 

contentment and gratitude, 

hearing the Dhamma at the right time 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

Self-control, the holy life, 

perception of the Noble Truths 

and the realization of Nibbana. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. 

A mind that, when touched 

by the ways of the world, 

remains steady, unstained, sorrowless, and at peace. 

This is the Supreme Blessing. Everywhere undefeated 

when acting in this way, 

people go  in well-being: 

These are the Supreme Blessings.