Couples around the world have celebrated the joining of two lives with wedding ceremonies. Far-reaching and ever-evolving, traditional Asian wedding traditions have long been revered for their color, vibrancy, and symbolism.
For Hindu weddings, it is common to have several days of ceremonies leading up to the wedding day. Traditional ceremonies such as the Ganesh Pooja and Haldi, or turmeric ceremony, take place. The Ganesh Pooja is intended to bring blessings and ensure a successful marriage, while the Haldi ceremony involves visitors of the bride and groom cover them in a paste containing turmeric, sandalwood, and rosewater. This is seen as a purification ritual meant to bring them good fortune, and help ward off potential evil spirits.
Asian weddings center around the colors and fabrics, often in shades of gold and other yellow hues. The bride will wear a red or pink sari or lengha, with heavy jewelry on her head. Gold and diamonds are particularly popular, and the bride will also typically have intricate henna art applied to her hands and feet. Hindu and Sikh weddings include httpsanathing called the jai mala, where the bride and groom exchange garlands, while the couple will exchange rings in Chinese, Japanese, and Burmese weddings.
Another significant part of Asian wedding traditions is the distribution of items known as bomkai to guests. This is a special container with small items such as confectionaries, fruit, and small trinkets that are given to guests during certain ceremonies. The content of the bomkai is believed to bring good luck and happiness to the newlyweds.
The wedding table is a focus of attention at Asian weddings, with the bride and groom taking their seats of honor. The table will be arranged with symbolic items such as a mirror, candies, sweets, and cups of tea.
The Meaning Behind Popular Asian Wedding Traditions
Asian weddings are full of ancient and modern customs, many inherited from ancient cultures. In this article we explore the deeper meanings behind some of the most popular wedding traditions.
Wealth and fortune
A popular tradition at Asian weddings is the gift of money. This is seen as offering the couple wealth and security for the future. Money is also exchanged between the bride and groom’s families, symbolising union and the merging of households.
At some Asian weddings, a ‘long life ceremony’ is observed. This tradition sees the bride and groom exchange Malas, or strings of prayer beads. The bride will line up her beads with the groom’s, a gesture to ensure happiness and long life together.
Stepping into adulthood
Many Asian weddings include the Head Shower ceremony. Here, the bride’s family and friends will shower her head with scented flowers and leaves, symbolising her arrival into married adult life.
Ahead of the game
The Door game is widely observed at Asian weddings. The bride and groom must work together to complete tasks, such as solving puzzles, to eventually be rewarded with the key of their ‘new home’. This is a practice that encourages the couple to support each other and work as a team through life’s difficulties.
How Asian Wedding Traditions Have Evolved Over Time?
Wedding traditions are an important part of most cultures, and for many members of Asian communities, weddings are no exception. However, traditional Asian wedding customs have changed dramatically over the last few centuries, both as a result of Western influence and from local practices.
Many couples in Asia, especially in India, combine ancient and modern elements in their wedding ceremonies. The ancient customs that form the basis of the modern wedding include offerings to the gods and goddesses to bring good fortune to the wedding couple and their families. This includes offering garlands of flowers to the gods, reciting mantras, seeking blessings from elders, and inviting the gods into the home to witness the event. All of these rituals are observed and still practiced today, although the way they are done may have changed slightly.
Some liberal attitudes towards weddings have evolved. For example, in some countries, arranged marriages are now becoming less popular, and couples are now granted more freedom in choosing their partner. In modern Asian weddings, there is a steady shift from traditional ceremonies to more contemporary ones, and sophisticated reception parties with music, dance, and decorations are becoming more and more common.
With the changes to traditional wedding ceremonies, many couples have also begun to personalize their special day. In Kerala, for example, many couples exchange flower corsages instead of using traditional garlands, and it has become common to include ceremonies like candle lighting, cake cutting, and exchange of rings. There is also more emphasis on modern day rituals like making vows and signing the marriage certificate.
The Ancient Meets the Modern in Asian Wedding Traditions
Asian wedding traditions cover some of the oldest customs and beliefs in the world. From brides dressing in red for a luck-filled future, to exchange of dowry, eternal love is celebrated in countless ways. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be exploring some of the ancient and modern traditions in Asian weddings.
In traditional Chinese weddings, the bride often wears a red dress that signifies luck and prosperity. Elsewhere, like in India, there is the elaborate mehndi ceremony, in which a paste made of henna is painstakingly applied to the hands and feet of the bride, groom, and their families.
In many cultures, before the wedding itself there are multiple parties such as engagement celebrations, bridal showers and sangeets (singing and dancing) that the family and friends will bring the couple closer together and to shower them with love and blessings.
Exchange of Gifts and Dowry
The bride and groom’s families often come together with gifts of money, jewelry or other presents for the exchanging couple as part of the wedding ceremony. Other regional customs such as the ‘lobola’ in African weddings involve the groom’s family paying a dowry in terms of livestock for the bride’s family.
During the ceremony itself there is different rituals in different regions. A Taiwanese tea ceremony is usually observed in which the couple shows humility and gratitude to their elders. This is often followed by a banquet or reception event with symbolic offerings for the bride and groom.
On the day after the wedding, the bride’s family often pays a gift or “courtesy visit” to the groom’s family. In traditional Chinese weddings, firecrackers are set off to celebrate their union. Also in many cultures, the bride will change out of her wedding dress into a traditional cultural dress and even dye her hair or cover her hair in a scarf to signify her transition into wifely status.
Asian weddings embody the concept of two families, two cultures and different religious beliefs joining together in celebration of eternal love. The combination of ancient and modern traditions are a sight to behold and unique to each culture.