Renewing Wedding Vows in Traditional Khmer Style
A Khmer wedding is one of the most colorful social events you can expect to encounter in Cambodia, especially when it takes place in the rural countryside. While customs vary from place to place, it traditionally lasts for three days and three nights, although more commonly it continues for a day and a half. Three is considered to be an especially auspicious number by Cambodians because of its association with the ‘three jewels’ of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma.
The ceremony begins early in the morning and is held at the home of the bride where it is directed by the Achar – usually a village elder or layman in charge of leading the wedding rituals. Buddhist priest are also invited to offer a short sermon and deliver prayers and blessings. During the ceremony there is also a ritual hair cutting, followed by tying cotton threads soaked in holy water around the wrists of the bride and groom.
The origins of traditional wedding customs can be found in the Khmer legend of Preah Thaong and Neang Neak, in which the groom carries the bride’s scarf, symbolizing that he has come from faraway and is marrying into the bride’s family. During the ceremony, the bride and groom wear wedding costumes extravagantly decorated with jewelry and are surrounded by their families and guests. Their garments are a sign of respect for their parents, who must also give their blessings to the couple. Prayers are then made to the monks to grant them a happy life.
While Khmer weddings are a long affair, Khiri Travel’s special Khmer wedding ceremony for guests can be narrowed down to just one hour – although three hours can also be arranged. During the ceremony, guests will have the traditional blessings followed by the symbolic hair cutting – representing a fresh start to a new relationship.
Finally, there will be the pairing ceremony in which the holy threads are tied around the bride and groom’s left and right wrists by family members and friends. Praises and well-wishes of happiness, good health, success, prosperity and long-lasting love are then declared to the sounds of gongs and cheers. The ceremony concludes with a shower of palm flowers and songs.
Guests can choose whether they would like to have the ceremony at their hotel, or in more traditional style at a local home in the countryside!
For more information about wedding ceremony in Cambodia, please contact [email protected]