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Wedding

 

Buddhist wedding ceremonies in Myanmar are more than religious occasions. The bridal couple solemnizes the union by paying obeisance to parents and elders rather than making vows in front of God or a cleric. For a Myanmar Buddhist couple, the union is legal if they live together and this fact is recognized by their neighbours and society. In other words, if they declare themselves wed, it is so. But now the popular modern method is for the pair to sign the marital contract in the presence of a judge and some witnesses.

Though a Myanmar bride does not give a dowry, it is more normal for man to offer some jewellery, property or money or to pay for the expenses of the wedding when asking for the hand of his lover. This, however, is not a strict rule and is an individual decision. After signing the contract, a reception is held for friends and relatives of both sides.

A wedding reception can be held at a hotel ballroom, community hall, monastery chamber, makeshift auditorium, or even at home depending on the preference and budget of the couple. It can be a formal ceremony with certain rituals or an informal ceremony, again depending on the choice of the couple. In formal ceremonies, a reception hall with a stage is hired and guests are sent invitations in advance. At the specified time of the ceremony, the couple makes an entry into the hall followed by parents and family members to the accompaniment of the traditional wedding march played by a band. A master of ceremonies then presides over the occasion and recites an elaborately written profile of the bridal couple. After the master of ceremonies has formally announced the couple as husband and wife, the guests feast on refreshments while the music plays on. Finally, the newly weds and their parents greet each guest and express words of thanks.

In an informal ceremony, the venue can be anywhere and no master of ceremonies, band of musicians, or a wedding march is required. The couple's dress, as well as those of the guests, are less formal, ornate or showy. The guests can come at their convenience during the reception hours and are served with a meal or refreshments upon arrival. After greeting the newly wedded couple, the guests can also leave at their convenience.

In both formal and informal ceremonies, it is necessary for the guests to bring a gift for the couple as a token of good will and as contribution toward the new family.