Marriage – Bhutanese Style
Discover the fascinating events which take place as Bhutanese couples are blessed through a series of rituals.
By Zann Huizhen Huang | Daily Bhutan
Ever wondered how couples in the exotic Kingdom of Bhutan, also endearingly known as the ‘Last Paradise’, hold their wedding ceremony?
For the Bhutanese, a wedding ceremony is not just a simple exchange of vows and rings followed by a lavish spread, with lots of merry-making, drinking and dancing.
Steeped in tradition, weddings in Bhutan are richly infused with elements of Buddhism. Wedding ceremonies typically involve a whole set of religious rituals performed by Buddhist monks and lamas.
Discover the fascinating events which take place as couples are blessed through a series of rituals.
First and foremost, an auspicious date according to the Bhutanese calendar will be picked for the wedding. Depending on the wishes of the couple, the ceremony can be conducted either in a Kyichu Dzong (Monastery) or a Druk (Dragon) Choeding temple.
This ritual which is regarded as ‘indispensable’, starts early on the auspicious day chosen for the wedding. Monks will chant mantras as they burn incense and make offerings to the local deities. All these rituals are performed outside the temple or monastery, prior to the arrival of the bride and groom.
It is generally believed that if the local deities are satisfied and pleased, the couple will be blessed with love and happiness and the wedding ceremony will go smoothly.
Lighting of Butter Lamps
Another vital step is the lighting of butter lamps, meant to symbolise the illumination of the couple’s life ahead together.
Photo: Trip to Bhutan
Once the bride and groom arrive, the butter lamps will be lit after they have prostrated six times – three times at the Head Lama or Guru Rinpoche and three times at the main altar of the temple or monastery.
Following the lighting of butter lamps, the Head lama and some monks would perform a Thrisor service. This purification ritual is believed to cleanse the couple’s body, speech, mind, soul and most importantly, of all their sins.
Another interesting ritual, locally brewed alcohol or Ara is offered to the deities. The remaining brew will be served to the bride and groom who will drink from the same phoob – a traditional wooden bowl.
The Changphoed ritual signifies the close bond that the couple will share for the rest of their lives and this is followed by the exchange of wedding rings – meant to bind the bride and groom together.
Performed by the Head Lama, ‘Tsepamey Choko’ actually refers to the God of Longevity in Bhutan. Therefore, as the name suggests, this ritual signifies the blessings granted to the couple for a blissful, lifelong marriage.
Zhugdrey Phunsum Tshogpa
Also known as ‘Zhungdrey’, the Zhugdrey Phunsum Tshogpa is a food sharing ritual. To begin with, the fruits and food are served to the local deities, then to God and finally to the guests who had turned up for the ritual.
Fruits used for the ceremony are usually oranges, meant to represent the sweet bond between the couple. It is also customary for guests to accept the fruits as a sign of goodwill.
Dhar Nyanga presentation
The ceremony ends with the presentation of the Dhar Nyanga (scarves) to the bride and groom, along with best wishes for a happily married life.
Photo: Facebook/His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
With these insight into a traditional Bhutanese wedding, it will indeed be a privilege if anyone, especially a foreigner, has the chance to witness these enchanting rituals.