Marriage in Thailand

 Thai-wedding.jpg

Hello, hope everyone is well.As I am currently living and working in Thailand, I thought that I would write a little bit about marriage here and how it has changed. I will give you an example through a friend or two of mine.

The institution of marriage has changed a lot in Thailand, mostly to the relaxation of traditions regarding the Buddhist components of the weddings.To begin with, the husband must approach the family of the person that he wishes to marry. They then decide on a price for the dowry or the สินสอด (sin sodt). This changes entirely depending on the looks, education and personal background of their child. Personally, I have known friends pay around 150,00 baht to the family for permission to ask to be engaged to marry, then over a million baht as part of a dowry to actually marry them.

The actual ceremony has changed a lot as well. Before it was seen as a bad omen to see a monk at a wedding as they were related to death and funerals. They would, however, consult a monk before the wedding for astrological advice on a matter such as when to set the wedding ceremony, etc.The actual ceremony itself was not at the temple at all as that was strictly forbidden. Now couples often go to the temple on the wedding day and sometimes are even married on temple grounds.Quite often monks are invited to make a blessing and share a meal at a marriage ceremony.

This is how the Buddhist component of a modern wedding ceremony typically  takes place:

“During the Buddhist component of the wedding service, the couple first bow before the image of the Buddha. They then recite certain basic Buddhist prayers or chants (typically including taking the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts), and light incense and candles before the image. The parents of the couple may then be called upon to “connect” them, by placing upon the heads of the bride and groom twin loops of string or thread that link the couple together. The couple may then make offerings of food, flowers, and medicine to the monks present. Cash gifts (usually placed in an envelope) may also be given to the temple at this time.

The monks may then unwind a small length of thread that is held between the hands of the assembled monks. They begin a series of recitations of Pali scriptures intended to bring merit and blessings to the new couple. The string terminates with the lead monk, who may connect it to a container of water that will be “sanctified” for the ceremony. Merit is said to travel through the string and be conveyed to the water. A similar arrangement is used to transfer merit to the dead at a funeral, further evidence of the weakening of the taboo on mixing funerary imagery and trappings with marriage ceremonies. Blessed water may be mixed with wax drippings from a candle lit before the Buddha image and other unguents and herbs to create a paste that is then applied to the foreheads of the bride and groom to create a small dot, similar to the marking made with red ochre on Hindu devotees. The bride’s mark is formed with the butt end of the candle rather than the monk’s thumb, in keeping with the Vinaya prohibition against touching women.

The highest-ranking monk present may elect to say a few words to the couple, offering advice or encouragement. The couple may then make offerings of food to the monks, at which point the Buddhist portion of the ceremony is concluded.”

Gay marriage is not currently licensed or recognised.

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