Discover the Magnificent Sri Lankan Wedding Culture
Step into the world of Sri Lankan weddings, where women are adorned in gold and white sarees, and men don traditional turbans and sarongs. Sri Lanka, known as the “teardrop of India,” captivates visitors with its graceful representation of heritage and tradition. This island nation has become a must-visit destination, offering a rich cultural experience that includes the grandeur of Sri Lankan weddings.
The Extravagance of Sri Lankan Wedding Culture
Prepare to be enthralled by the extravagance of traditional Sri Lankan weddings. Once a divine alliance between two individuals, these ceremonies have now evolved into extravagant affairs. Influenced by the grandeur of Indian subcontinent weddings, Sri Lankan wedding culture is a sight to behold.
Ethnic Groups Residing in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to diverse ethnic groups, each with its own unique customs and traditions. The largest ethnic group is the Sinhalese, followed by Sri Lankan Tamils, Muslims, Indian Tamils, and more. Let’s take a closer look at these ethnic communities:
The Sinhalese are believed to be the descendants of Prince Vanga. They were organized into kingdoms, led by hereditary kings. Known for their prowess in fine arts, literature, and dance, the Sinhalese have also mastered the martial art form called ‘Angampora.’
Sri Lankan Tamils
Considered the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Tamils have genetic ties to the Sinhalese but have distinct cultural practices. They are divided into three groups based on their geographical location – Negombo Tamils, Eastern Tamils, and Jaffna Tamils. The majority of Tamils follow Hinduism, while a significant minority practices Roman Catholicism.
Sri Lankan Moors
The Sri Lankan Moors, the largest Muslim ethnic group in the country, are closely associated with Tamil speakers and have adopted certain facets of Arab culture. Their wedding ceremonies include the tradition of sharing large plates of food.
Having migrated from India during the British colonial period, Indian Moors have a rich history as plantation laborers. They primarily follow Islam, with their religious beliefs shaping their wedding traditions.
Sri Lankan Wedding Ceremonies
Before Buddhism spread across Sri Lanka, a similar marriage system to Hindu laws was practiced. However, with the arrival of Buddhism, there was a significant transformation in marriage laws, customs, and the legal position of women.
Sri Lankan-Buddhist Wedding Culture
Sri Lankan-Buddhist weddings are more than just social events. Each ceremony is steeped in solemn rituals and traditions passed down through generations. Although some practices have evolved, certain customs like observing the auspicious time (Nekatha) and the Poruwa ceremony remain essential.
Nekatha – The Auspicious Time
The Nekatha, or auspicious time, holds great importance in a Buddhist wedding. Astrologers determine the wedding date and time after studying the horoscopes of the bride and groom. The birth details of the couple also play a crucial role in selecting the most auspicious moment for the wedding.
The Poruwa ceremony, also known as Poruwa siritha, is an integral part of a traditional Sinhalese-Buddhist marriage. Formalized during British rule in the 1870s, it is now recognized as a legal marriage agreement in Sri Lanka. The ceremony combines traditions from various Sri Lankan communities and features an elegantly adorned altar made of four wooden pillars.
As the ceremony begins, the bride and groom walk together towards the Poruwa, keeping their right foot forward and facing the guests. The seating arrangement separates guests based on their relationship with the couple, with the bride’s side on the right and the groom’s side on the left.
The groom is accompanied by drummers and Kandyan dancers, creating a vibrant procession. The couple greets each other in a traditional manner by holding their palms together. The ceremony commences with the couple exchanging betel leaves, a symbolic gesture that they will share throughout their married life.
During the Poruwa ceremony, seven betel leaf bundles are offered to God as a request to protect their union for seven generations. The bride’s father symbolically places her right hand on the groom’s, signifying his trust and support.
The Ceremony Begins
Sri Lankan weddings involve several participants, including the master of ceremony (shilpadhipathi), the narrator (ashtaka), and the Jayamangala Gatha, a group of four young girls who bless the marriage with religious chants. Each ritual holds a specific meaning and is conducted with utmost reverence.
At the designated time, the ceremony commences with the auspicious seven betel leaves ritual. The couple takes turns dropping a betel leaf into the Poruwa. Following this, the groom’s brother presents a gold necklace, which the groom places around the bride’s neck.
The Tying of the Pirith Nool
In the past, before registered marriages were introduced, the tying of the pirith nool (sacred thread) symbolized the union of marriage. The Master of Ceremonies ties the bride and groom’s fingers with the thread, followed by the pouring of holy water (pirith pan) from a Kandyan-crafted silver jug. This ritual holds immense significance as water and earth are sacred elements in Buddhism.
Gifting of a White Cloth
After the pirith nool ritual, the groom presents a white cloth to the bride. This cloth, admired by the bride, is handed over to her mother as a token of gratitude from the groom’s family for raising their daughter. This heartfelt moment also includes the groom’s promise to take care of the bride for the rest of their lives.
Milk and Kiribath
No Sri Lankan wedding is complete without indulging in delicious sweets and desserts. While Western weddings focus on cake cutting ceremonies, Sri Lankan weddings feature kiribath or milk rice, a special traditional dessert. The bride’s mother feeds the couple milk rice, followed by the groom’s mother offering them a sip of milk. The ceremony culminates with the couple feeding each other kiribath.
As the newly married couple descends from the Poruwa, members of the groom’s side break a fresh coconut, symbolizing new beginnings. With the beat of drums and the rhythm of dancers, the couple triumphantly announces to the world that they are now husband and wife.
Wedding Dresses in Sri Lanka
Bride’s Wedding Dress
Whether the bride is Sinhalese or Malay, her attire is a mesmerizing fusion of eastern and western traditions. From elegant veils inspired by Western styles to timeless silk sarees, Sri Lankan brides exude uniqueness and charm.
On their wedding day, brides typically wear heavily embroidered silk sarees with long blouses. These sarees are adorned with beads, pearls, stones, and sequins, often showcasing intricate gold and silver thread work. Some brides opt for blouses with puffy sleeves, reflecting royal customs. In Western-style ceremonies, brides wear white wedding dresses and adorn themselves with exquisite jewelry.
Groom’s Wedding Dress
The Sri Lankan groom’s wedding outfit stands out as one of the most unique in Southeast Asia. Inspired by the 19th-century royal attire, the groom wears a luxurious velvet hat and jacket, symbolizing grandeur.
The groom’s attire includes a hat, jacket, mul anduma (a decorated waistband), and shoes. The outfit is meticulously embroidered with silver and gold thread from head to toe. The groomsmen also wear similar attire, known as the Nilame costume, albeit in a less extravagant fashion.
Bride’s Homecoming Ceremony
The homecoming ceremony marks the end of a splendid Sri Lankan wedding. It takes place a few days after the main ceremony. At the Poruwa ceremony, the groom’s mother presents a red saree and jacket to the bride. The bride wears this attire as she enters her new home, symbolizing the beginning of her life with her husband.
The Sri Lankan wedding culture epitomizes grace and heritage, showcasing beautiful traditions that have stood the test of time. It is a joyous celebration that brings together loved ones to witness the union of two souls. So, sit back, enjoy the best food, and revel in the warmth of a quintessential Sri Lankan wedding.
If you want to experience the grandeur of a Sri Lankan wedding, book your trip with DHPL Travels now!
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