Like many other cultures, the institution of marriage in Tibet has possessed its own uniqueness in terms of sacredness in bonding and commitment. Although the marriage institution has undergone series of changes throughout the centuries, the root institution has remained almost the same. We will discuss in detail about typical wedding ceremony taking place these days in Lhasa.
Before getting married, it is always consider essential for the spouses to consult an astrologist to match the zodiac compatibility of spouses. The compatibility of zodiac is followed by checking the compatibility of Elements of the spouses.
The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Wood and Iron. The basic compatibility theory should be as below;
Fire and Water (Not compatible)
Water and Iron (Not compatible)
Earth and Water (Extremely compatible)
Wood and Water (Good Compatibility)
If the spouses Zodiac and Elements are compatible, it is then followed by choosing a good date (according to the Tibetan Calendar) on which the wedding ceremony should take place by consulting a Tibetan astrologist. On the first day of the wedding, it is custom for the bride to wait at her home to get pick up by the groom and together they head toward to the groom’s home to start the actual ceremony. The groom’s home will be beautifully decorated. The barley laid on the gate symbolizing the harvest she is bringing into the family. Lamas are often invited to recite mantras on the wedding days to bless the newly wed in their life long journey.
The style of wedding ceremony can also be differed base on the geography. The way of celebration in Kham region is different from those of Amdo region. In Lhasa, the wedding is about 2 days ceremony however there are villages in Tibet celebration the weeding for about 7 days. The Conventional Tibetan society is more of adopting arrange marriage however due to socio-economic changes, it is changing and there are more number of adult going for love marriage.
The typical Tibetan wedding ceremony is characterized by having both the spouses sitting together with their families in Tibetan traditional costumes. The sitting arrangement should be as below;
Bride Groom’s Father
Bride Groom’s Mother
It is accustomed to have peach, Ginseng Fruits mixed with Rice (Dro Ma Dae Sil) and Butter tea placed on the table in front of them to symbolize good wishes on the special occasion. While sitting in the wedding hall, Monks are invited to recite Mon Tsik (words of good wishes) and Tibetan opera will be performed. It is then followed by offering of Khadak (a white ceremonial scarf made of silk). Khadak will be first offered to the God and then to the spouses and family members accordingly. It is accustomed to say a word of good wishes like Tashi Delek when offering Khadak. In a typical wedding ceremony, it is required to arrange 2 servants for the spouses who will feed droma Dae Sil (Ginseng Fruits mixed with Rice) to the spouses to bring about good wishes to them.
There are few essential materials to be made ready on the wedding day to symbolize good wishes;
1. A bucket of water with Khadak circulated around it. The water bucket should have to three pieces of butter (Yer Sil) pinched on it to symbolize prosperity of the family.
2. A sack full of cow dung to bring about warmth in the family.
3. A Flag pole (Da Dhar) need to be installed in order to wish the newly wed success in their life journey together. While installing, Tibetan opera will be performed (Namthar). Family members and relatives are required to stand in line while installing the flag pole. It is then followed by a traditional activity called So So (throwing of Tsampa in the air). While throwing Tsampa in the air, it is accustomed to say the word SO thrice followed by KYI KYI SO LHA GYAL LO and then throw the handful of Tsampa in the air. Shrubs (SANG) and incenses are required to burn to bless the newly wed couple. These traditional activities should be performed before the sun set.
4. It is accustomed to have Si Pae Khor Lo (Wheel of Life) to bring about prosperity in the family.
The wedding ceremony ends by performing Gor Shay (Tibetan traditional circled dance) and after which everyone will be occupied by involving in different traditional games like SHO, Carom board etc.