BUDDHIST MARRIAGE RITUALS

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Sun Jan 27 10:54:32 EST 2013


Dear Akalendu,

Marriage was not treated as a properly Buddhist concern in early Buddhism
and hence there are no properly Buddhist marriage rituals. However, some Buddhist
societies (Tibetan, Newar, etc.) have adapted their marriage customs in such a way that Buddhism does play at least some role. I do not know of scholarship that has tried to look at this phenomenon from a
comparative perspective, which would perhaps be an interesting topic for a collaborative research
project. In any event, actual Buddhist marriage rituals are best explored by looking into the
ethnographic literature concerning various Buddhist societies. I suspect that it many cases
what you will find will resemble the following, from M. Spiro's great work on Burmese Buddhism,
Buddhism and Society (p. 234): "The marriage ceremony is entirely secular. In itself it contains no Buddhist
element. On the morning of the wedding day, however, monks are invited to the home of the bride... Usually..
they are asked to recite paritta to protect the prospective bride and groom from danger..."

Matthew

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago
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