Wedding culture is adorned with numerous kinds of rituals and traditions that vary from place to place and culture to culture. One of the influences of these customs is religion. Religion seems to govern the major aspects of a wedding ceremony whether it is the marriage contract or the symbolic use of everyday objects like glass or rice to add an element of spirituality as well as make the occasion an enjoyable one full of vivacity and mirth that engages the attendees. Some of the rituals and traditions that may be unfamiliar to us are:
Jewish weddings involve a canopy called the chuppah which represents the home that the marrying couple is moving on to create together through the marriage.
During the kanyadaan ceremony at Hindu weddings, parents, particularly the father, of the bride are seen giving their daughter away to her new husband by placing her right hand on his and exemplifying her as a ‘gift’. This is followed by putting flowers, leaves, rice, dry fruit and even gold within their hands and then pouring ‘holy water’ onto their palms.
The Nine Monks
Buddhist weddings involve inviting nine monks. Near each first monk, there is a bowl of ‘holy water’ and a candle while a single monk holds a fan in one hand and recites prayers for the couple. The next day the monks are presented with nine dishes of food and envelopes containing money.
In Christian weddings the bride and groom light a single large candle using a smaller candle each. This signifies the couple coming together as one as well as the unification of two families into a single unit brought about by the marriage.
Breaking the Glass
A signifying moment during a Jewish wedding is the sound of glass breaking. Usually, it is the groom who breaks a wine glass to initiate the party after the religious ceremony but it is also seen as a tradition that exemplifies the fragility of human relationships, as well as reminds the couple that marriage can change lives forever.
The Sacred Thread
In Buddhist weddings, a scared thread is used to join the heads of the bride and the groom a night before the wedding. It is then unrolled onto a monk’s hands. On the wedding day, the thread is once again placed on the couple’s head and is made to form a circle around them.
A Sikh wedding involves this bangle ceremony at the bride’s home in which the bride’s uncle gives her a set of 21 bangles in red and cream color which is bathed in yogurt milk and rosewater. After placing the bangles, he covers it with a shawl. This is meant to symbolize the bride moving away from her natural home and family. Other people can bless the bride by tying silver and gold ornaments on the bangles.
It is truly remarkable to see the diversity in these religious wedding customs performed all over the world with each one holding its own spiritual significance.