Uninvited Wedding Guest is a Celebrity Witness in Myanmar
Myanmar common law considers a marriage valid only when seven households to the east and seven households to the west of the newlywed’s home have taken notice of their wedding. The idea behind this civil code is to guarantee that the wedding has proper witnesses.
Weddings in Myanmar are scheduled on Sundays during the dry season from October to March. It is a happy day indeed for both the bride and the groom as well as their families and numerous guests. Again the guests play an important role as witnesses who can later confirm that they not only attended the wedding but can also testify that they heard the couple’s parents gave their consent to the wedding.
Although Western style weddings do happen in Myanmar, with fancy and expensive arrangements in the ballroom of a luxury hotel – and sometimes even with a wedding contract, the average wedding is much more humble. Traditionally, families of the bride and groom send out invitations to colleagues, relatives, friends and acquaintances. Once everyone has arrived at the venue, usually a restaurant, every guest is served a piece of cake and some coffee. Within one hour, however, the party is over! The main purpose of the short but sweet celebration is to gather as many witnesses as possible, while two designated persons will confirm in writing that the couple is indeed married.
A Khiri Travel Myanmar employee has a funny story about attending a local wedding. Apparently the Khiri staffer was traveling to Lashio, Shan State about a year ago on a motorbike. He got into a minor accident and the police were called. Despite some legal implications at the scene of the accident, the police officers remarked they were on their way to attend a colleague’s wedding in only ten minutes time and had to hurry. Instead of discussing the details of the accident, the police asked the slightly injured Khiri staffer to join them at the wedding!
Road weary and wearing dirty clothes with a bleeding knee, the accident victim was lead into the wedding hall and placed at the table reserved for honored guests! Capitalizing on this news story, TV cameras began filming close-ups and a newspaper reporter took photos of this disheveled foreigner attending a local wedding. True to custom, cake and coffee were served to all the guests. It all ended up being a very pleasant experience for the impromptu guest, despite the totally inappropriate clothes that he was wearing! The wedding party and other guests had another motive in welcoming this uninvited person—he would serve as a celebrity witness just in case one was needed!
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