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Wedding Ceremony in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, wedding couples can choose a style of wedding ceremony in line with their religious beliefs or preference, for example, a civil wedding conducted by a Registrar of Marriages, a Buddhist Wedding, a Hindu Wedding, a Muslim Wedding or a Christian Wedding. A wedding is very important day in life, so wedding events are planned in advance by consulting with relatives, bridal designers, and other specialists to make a memorable occasion.

Most Sinhala Buddhist couples observe Poruwa wedding ceremony. The traditional Poruwa ceremony dates back to the third century BC. In the past the Poruwa ceremony was held on top of a small hill or on another elevated place under a Banyan, Margosa or a Mango tree. A poruwa is a beautifully decorated wooden platform, an elevated wedding stage or a wedding throne. The astrologer compares the couple’s horoscopes and decides on the best date and time (auspicious time) for holding a wedding ceremony.

The bride and groom arrive to the ceremony, often accompanied by a scenic mini procession of Kandyan traditional dancers and drummers. The groom wears Kandyan or European costume, and the bride is dressed in a beautiful wedding sari with traditional jewelry. A wide choice of wedding and party saris and European-style dresses are available in many shops. 

The conch shell starts blowing and the wedding couple enter a poruwa with their right feet first. The groom’s relatives gather on the right of the Poruwa, and the bride's relatives remain on the left. The guests greet each other with palms held together in the traditional manner. The Master of ceremonies, Shilpadhipathi in Sinhala, presents 7 betel leaves to the couple. They accept the leaves and hand them back to be put on the Poruwa as the offering to the Gods. Then the couple exchange vows, joint promises to live as husband and wife until death. They also exchange betel bundles 7 times. This custom is carried out in order that the bond unity and love will last for 7 generations. The bride's father takes his daughter’s right hand and put it on the right hand of the groom, as a symbolic gesture of handing over the bride to the groom. The couple worship their parents with betel sheaves.

Girls dressed in the traditional Sri Lankan saree chant and sing wedding songs to call upon blessings for the couple. The index fingers of the couple are tied with a golden thread to symbolize the bond and unity, after that the Master of Ceremonies pours water over their fingers. Then the couple turns clockwise three times.The bride and groom exchange rings. Subsequently, they feed each other with milk rice. This is a symbolic promise to take care of each other for life. The bride and groom also exchange gifts. The groom presents to his bride a white cloth, which she hands over to her mother. This is an expression of the groom's gratitude to his mother-in-law for bringing up his bride. The bride's mother gives a plate of milk rice and kavums, cooked specially for the wedding ceremony, to the bride, who feeds few piece to the bridegroom. Afterward the groom feeds the bride.

The couple step down from the poruwa amid chanting and beating of drums and a coconut is broken as a ritual to drive away evil spirits. The couple lights the traditional oil lamp used at all important occasions and events in Sri Lanka to symbolize light, health, success and the start of a bright new future together. The couple and witnesses sign the marriage certificate. The final stage of the ceremony is the cutting of the wedding cake. The newlyweds are seated a specially designed settee decorated with flowers, candles, greenery, etc… Couples may take a ceremonial walk along the beach, some rarely ride on an elephant or even dive underwater, that symbolizes their journey together for life.

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