THAILAND WEDDING: NEUNG + JUDE PART 2

Welcome to the part 2 of Neung and Jude’s traditional Thai wedding rites. 

 

THE ENGAGEMENT CEREMONY

The Khan Maak Procession

According to Thai custom, a couple traditionally becomes engaged in a ceremony known as “Khan Maak”.  Khan means ‘bowl’ and Maak means ‘betel nut’; ‘Khan Maak’ literally means ‘bowl of betel nuts”.

Traditionally in Thai culture, the family of the groom discuss with the family of the bride how much dowry (‘sinsod’) should be paid. Once this is agreed, the engagement can take place which involves an offering of gold and gifts for the bride and her family. The groom and his family and friends form a procession to take the ‘khan maan man’ (items of engagement) on special trays to the family of the bride. The time of the procession is very important, as it has been calculated to occur at the most auspicious moment for the bride and the groom.

While waiting for the Khan Maak procession to begin….

The groom ready for the 9:09AM Khan Maak procession. Other guests carry the traditional gifts of rice, sesame seeds, Thai food including nine traditional Thai desserts. The dowry, which includes cash, gold and jewelry that will be handed to the bride’s family was also carried during the procession.

Banana leaves and sugar canes are paraded like banners.

The procession is led by the groom’s representative followed by the groom and his parents, relatives and friends, who accompany him carrying flowers , incense, candles and the traditional gifts.

The procession is a lot of fun and is accompanied by traditional folk dancers announces the arrival of the procession. The entourage dances its way to the bride’s house.

The Gate Ceremony

Before Jude can bring the bride from her room to join him for the engagement ceremony, he must successfully pass through the symbolic “gates” or “doors” that are placed in his way by the family of the bride. This part of the wedding ceremony is the most ‘sanuk’ with plenty of laughter and frivolity most of which comes at the expense of the groom as he is teased and gently ribbed by bride’s family.

The groom is questioned  and is occasionally teased during this activity as the family light-heartedly determined whether he could pass through each “gate”. Typically, these gates are represented by belts held by two female members of the bride’s family or friends.

Jude can only pass through the “gate” once he has proven his worth to the “gatekeeper”.

To make sure that Jude is worthy and financially able to take care of his bride, he must be able to open the symbolic doors or gates by providing a “key”. This key comes in a form of an envelope with money inside. The groom hands over the money envelopes to the gatekeepers.

The groom maybe given a hard time as the gate guardians joke and tell him the money isn’t enough to gain access. As he reaches each gate the amount asked for will be more and there is lots of cheering as each gate is successfully opened. 

Neung enjoys watching Jude go through teasing from her friends during the gate ceremony. The bride remains inside her room when the khan maak procession arrives.

At the last gate, Jude was asked to dance by the gatekeepers before he can knock on Neung’s room.

Jude was able to passed though all the gates, and he now takes Neung from her room and the marriage rites continue with the “sinsod” ceremony.

Once all the gates are open to the groom and his parade, the groom’s family shall offer the “sinsod” along with other presents, including a pair of banana trees which represent fertility, a pair of canes which represents sweetness and a couple of trays of Thai dishes, fresh fruits, seets and traditional desserts.

“Khaan Maak” tray were the dowry is placed.

Jude and Neung performs a “kraap” as a gesture of respect to their parents before the start of the sinsod ceremony.

The ancient tradition, although may seem outdated remains an integral part of the Thai marriage ceremony and it effectively seals the engagement. The custom of paying “sinsod”, which literally means “payment for the mother’s milk” was originally brought in to ensure that one’s daughter does not marry below her potential standing in life and stipulate that her social, financial and professional status and reputation is preserved and secured.

Cong. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez gives his advise to the couple. He stand as one of the witnesses of their marriage.

Traditionally, the dowry (sinsod) will be formally presented by the parents of the groom to the bride’s parents on “Khan Maak” tray. This dowry cosistsof money, gold, and jewelry.

The reason behind the dowry is for the groom to prove that he is financially stable, and will be able to take of the bride in the future, and also to thank the parents of the bride for raising her.

 The dowry is then counted out onto a cloth by the bride’s parents. The amount of the dowry is usually arranged prior to the wedding and is intended to represent prospective wealth for the couple.

The parents and fmaily elders present will then bless both the “sinsod” and the couple by sprinkling flower petals symbolizing a life of growing prosperity for the couple.

The “sinsod” is wrapped up in a cloth by tying the opposite corners of the cloth to create a bundle. The mother of the bride then carries away the bundle on her shoulders.

The Engagement Ceremony

The engagement is traditionally celebrated prior to the marriage, but presently it has become common to perform the ceremony after the presentation of the sinsod. Historically, the engagement is a way of introducing the bride to the groom. The bride and groom exchanges rings infront of their parents and witnessed by their families, relatives and friends.

Jude putting on the ring to the bride.

Neung performs a “wai” consist of slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion to show respect and reverance to Jude after putting on the ring.

That’s a huge ring for the groom.

Neung and Jude performaing a “wai” to each other. 

After the rings have been exchanged, Neung and Jude presents a tray of flowers, incense and candles and the “pa wai” or a gift to each of their parents and the elders.

Each elder places his hands around the candles and incense as a symbol of acceptance, but does not keep it as it is used each time for all the family elders. The elders in turn present a personal gift to the couple and offers a blessing to the couple.

Neung and Jude offers a gift to each of the elders present in the ceremony.

 Cong. FM Romualdez gives his wedding present to the couple.

 

THE WATER BLESSING CEREMONY

The Thread and Water Ceremony

After the Engagement Ceremony, the bride and the groom prepares for the Thread and Water Ceremony. The rite of pouring water is the most important part of the Thai wedding ceremony, as it is during this part that the couple officially becomes husband and wife and marriage becomes validated and becomes binding.

The wedding ceremony is conducted by a senior elder from the family of the bride or a respected member of the community. Wearing garlands round their necks, Neung and Jude kneels infront of the senior elder. The couple makes the “wai” as the white thread specially blessed by the monks is looped and used to link together the heads of the bride and the groom.

Placing the “sai monkhon” (white thread) upon their heads represents the union of the bride and the groom. The sacred cord forms two circles that while linked also remained distinct, symbolically indicating that while the destinies of the couple are linked, their individual identities are maintained. The circle also represents continuity and the principle that merit can be carried around in circles.

The senior elder then pours lustral water over the hands of the couple. Water signifies cleansing and blessing. Bowls of flowers are placed underneath the hands to catch the water. The rest of the guests then bless the couple by also pouring water over the hands of the couple of the “rod nam sang” ceremony.

The three dots of white powder in Neung and Jude’s forehead represent the shape of a pyramid. This power is made of dirt or clay, ground and mixed with holy water and blessed by the Buddhist monks during the Blessing Ceremony. As will all the wedding traditions, this ritual is meant to bring blessing, good fortune and prosperity to the couple.

The Shell and Water Ceremony

During the “Rod Nam Sang”, which literally means to “soak with water”, a conch shell is filled with scented holy water. Each guest blesses the couple by pouring a trickle of lustral water blessed by the monks from the base of the thumb to the fingertips; first over the hands of the groom and then that of the bride.

Pouring water over the bride and groom ‘s hands signifies washing away all ills, misfortune and evil. Therefore, the marriage will start afresh with all that is good and pure. Water symbolizes cleansing and signifies purity.

 Parents and elders remove the “sai monkhon” from the couple and gives their final blessings.

 

THE RECEPTION

A lunch reception was prepared to celebrate the marriage.

Mother of the bride checking in on the cake.

The theme of their cake is nautical since Neung and Jude met in the ship as delegates of the Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program.

You need a sword to cut the cake.:)

Someone is helping Jude tie his shoes. I wonder who that guy is.:)

Jude and Neung gives a brief acknowledgment speech to their guests.

After the slicing of the cake, Neung and Jude offers a slice of their cake to their parents, their senior family members and special guests of honor.

The next bride and groom game is a must in every wedding reception program regardless of tradition and culture.

THE PREPARATION OF THE BRIDAL BED

After the wedding reception, the final ceremony, the “Song Tua” or the Preparation of the Bridal Bed follows. The bed is prepared by a senior married couple, in this case is the uncle and auntie of Neung, who have lived a happy and fulfilled marriage, in the hope that their experience, knowledge and good fortune will be imparted to the newly married couple.

The bride is accompanied by her parents to their bedroom.

The groom and his parents happily welcomes the bride and her parents to the bedroom.

The senior couple lies down on the bed and pretends to be asleep for a while.

Parents of the newlyweds sprinkling flower petals to the bed symbolizing a life of growing prosperity.

Nine items was placed on the bed as symbols of prosperity and fertility: one big brass tray; a mortar as a symbol of the permanence and stability of love; a walking cane as a symbol of a long life together; a green squash as a symbol of a happy and peaceful married life; a silver bag and gold bag containing beans, sesame seeds and baking powder as a symbol of prosperity; a bowl of rainwater as a symbol of harmony; a white cat doll to represent the habit of spending more time at home; and a white chicken to represent the habit of rising early from bed.

I think the bed is short for Jude.:)

 

Thank you Neung and Jude for making my team part in one of the very important events of your lives. It’s an honor and privileged by giving us the trust and confidence to make a masterpiece of a very intimate gathering of family and friends in Bangkok. May this post in my blog serve as a reminder of this special bond for many, many years to come. I wish you both a life filled with happiness and love.

Damo nga salamat for choosing Joey Reyna Photography to share in your joy!

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