Asia Showcases Diverse Wedding Traditions
Marriage is a sacred institution, with all its rituals and formalities. Extravagant wedding celebrations make it even more enjoyable and add to the joy of the occasion! Wedding trends have undergone noticeable changes with time.
Every culture comes with its own unique traditions, and the Asian culture is no different. Although modernism has had an influence on the way weddings are conducted today, Asian marriages continue to follow some very important religious traditions from the past.
Owing to the rich blend of cultures in Asia, weddings here are a grand and unique affair when compared to the other parts of the world. Read on to understand the wedding traditions in Asian countries and what makes them stand out from the rest.
Indian Wedding - If you’ve attended an Indian wedding, you’ll know what it’s like to have lots of colourful flowers, vibrant clothing, rich jewellery, professional henna artists and delicious food, all in one place! Indian wedding traditions again, differ with the region, caste, religion, language and ethnicity. A Sikh wedding will be very different from a Muslim wedding, which is again very different from a Bengali wedding, and so on.
A typical Indian wedding celebration can be either a one-day affair or can go on up to several days. In the Hindu culture, an astrologer decides the marriage date and time, so that the sacred rituals are conducted at the most auspicious moment.
The bride and groom are not allowed to see each other for quite a few days before their wedding because it is believed to bring bad luck. Pre-wedding rituals include the mehendi party (henna-application), haldi function (turmeric-application), worshipping the Gods and the baraat (the groom’s entry).
On the wedding day, you will also get to see the couple exchanging flower garlands, walking around the sacred circle of fire, the groom marking his bride’s forehead with a red dot and tying a mangalsutra around her neck. After the exchange of vows and completion of the ceremony, comes the ‘bidaai’, when the bride bids adieu to her family and departs with her husband.
Chinese Wedding - Red is the colour of Chinese weddings, for it is believed to bring luck, love and prosperity. The bride wears vibrant silk clothing (usually the Qi Pao), adorned with golden embroideries of phoenixes, peonies, chrysanthemums and dragons, while the groom is seen in a black silk coat and a robe, embroidered with the dragon.
The phoenix and dragon combination symbolises the balance between male and female power. The wedding date is fixed based on astrological calculations, so that the day is lucky for the couple. One prominent ritual includes the serving of tea to the couple’s parents and grandparents, before and after the ceremony.
The purpose of loud firecrackers at Chinese weddings is to ward off evil spirits. In southern Chinese weddings, you will often here the phrase ‘price of the bride’, which is decided according to the groom’s economic status.
The groom’s family offers either money, gold jewellery or a roast pig to the bride’s family as a token of respect. Whilst the elders give wedding presents to the couple, younger family members serve tea to the newlyweds. Gifts and blessings are usually given in red packets in the form of money or AngBaos. AngBaos depend on the wedding location, date, cultural traditions and other factors, and can be decided based on the different wedding angbao rates.
Japanese Wedding - In Japan, ‘Miai’ refers to arranged marriage and ‘Ren’ai’ refers to a marriage decided by the boy and girl on their own. The bride and groom wear a white kimono at a traditional Japanese Shinto (Shinto religion) wedding.
While the bride’s kimono includes beautiful flowers and embroidery, the groom wears a black kimono with his family’s symbol embellished in white.
The bride’s outfit is usually heavy, so you might see her change clothes more than once throughout the ceremony.
In the Shinto wedding, emphasis is given to blessings given by the natural spirits. In the Buddhist wedding, the exchange of necklaces symbolises the marriage and also indicates the unison of the two families.
Japanese weddings make use of things with strong symbolic representations, like the ‘mizuhiki’ knot (symbolising long life and prosperity), the bamboo (for purity and prosperity) and ‘the Sankon-no-gi’ (representing exchange of vows).
While the religious ceremonies take place solely in the presence of the couple, the reception involves a big family celebration. Money is put in an envelope and given to the couple as wedding presents. Some affluent newlyweds also give away gifts to their guests.
Korean Wedding - Koreans are considered to be non-fussy when it comes to spending for the wedding ceremony. Korean wedding takes place only if the fortune-teller foresees that the couple will have a harmonious life. Otherwise, the wedding is called off.
Hanbok is the traditional Korean costume worn by children, men and women. It is either made out of silk, white or hemp, the way it was originally made; or out of different fabric types and colours as worn today. ‘Jeon-an-rye’ is an ancient Korean tradition, wherein the groom keeps a wild goose on the table and blows to his mother-in-law, twice. She then takes the goose inside. Since wild geese mate for life and stick to one partner all their lives, this tradition represents love and harmony between the newlyweds.
In the modern-day ritual, a wooden goose is used to represent the wild goose.
Asian weddings are refreshing and fun, with their modern yet traditional rituals. It’s truly a delight to see the amount of effort and planning that go into wedding preparations, and to finally have a grand execution.