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Traditional Sinhalese Wedding

 Sri Lanka is a land of many religions, much like India, and so are their customs and rituals. The advent of Buddhism has influenced the Sri Lankan marriage customs and rituals in a big way, and here we shall skim through a traditional Sinhalese Buddhist marriage.

Nekath or Auspicious Time

The wedding is decided on a suitable Nekath or auspicious time. This is very similar to the Hindu custom of checking with the horoscopes of the bride and groom to arrive on a proper date and time.

Poruwa Ceremony 

After the Nekath is fixed, the next important ceremony is the Poruwa Siritha. The traditional Buddhist marriage function takes place on an elevated and elegantly crafted wooden platform called as the Poruwa. For a grand wedding, the groom arrives at the wedding location flanked by drummers and a procession of Kandyan dancers. Sometimes an elephant, beautifully decked, is also present. The bridal party would be waiting by the right side of the Poruwa as the bridegroom and his procession assemble to the left. The bride and the groom enter the Poruwa together, leading with the right foot as it is considered auspicious. They greet each other in the traditional way of the palms held together, after which the ceremony commences.

The Auspicious Seven

The auspicious seven is seven betel leaf bundles, which the bride and groom offer to the gods. This is a request to the gods to protect seven generations arising from their marriage. Following this, the bride's father hands over his daughter by placing her right hand in that of the groom. Then the groom's brother hands over a tray with seven sheaves of betel leaves, with a coin placed in each. This seven sheaves of betel leaves are dropped one by one onto the Poruwa by the bride as the groom holds the tray. This is a symbolic representation of the seven generations of relatives that is remembered on each side.

The Golden Knot

The groom is handed a chain which he places on his bride's neck. Then, the small fingers of the bride and groom are tied together with a golden thread by the bride's maternal uncle. He then proceeds to pour water over the fingers, after which he turns the couple three times clockwise. Next, the bride is gifted with a white cloth by the groom, which is presented to her mother. This is an offering of gratitude by the groom to his mother-in-law for bringing up his bride. Following this, the groom's mother presents the 'going-away' saree to the bride.

Chaturthi Karma

 This is a ceremony where the bride and the groom each feeds the other from a plate of milk rice and kavum. This plate is presented by the bride's mother, who cooks it with special ingredients for the marriage ceremony. After these rituals, the newlyweds climb down from the Poruwa, as the Shilpathi or master of ceremonies breaks a coconut. A traditional brass oil lamp is then lit by the couple, symbolising their promise to keep the lights in their life burning.