Tibetan Marriage Customs, Wedding Ceremony in Tibet
Tibetan is a minority with unique culture in China. Tibetan marriage customs are also special. Wedding ceremony in Tibet is also different in different regions of Tibet. Here we just talk about the common wedding traditions in Tibet.
Proposal in Tibetan Marriage Customs
Proposal is the first step of marriage. Traditionally, if a man is interested in a lady, he will seek her age, date of birth and her zodiac attribute (i.e mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog or pig). With all the information on hand, he will consult an astrologist to check if her attributes are compatible with his. If both zodiac matched, the fellow's family will choose an auspicious day and get a matchmaker to visit the girl's family for the formal proposal, with gifts such as khatag, yak butter tea, barley wine and other gifts. If her family agrees, they will accept the gifts. Nowadays, freedom of choosing spouse is also prevail in Tibet.
Engagement in Tibetan Marriage Customs
If both sides agree with the marriage, they will choose another auspicious day to sign an engagement. The ceremony will be held at the lady's house and should be participated by representatives of both families and the chief witnesses. On that particular day, the man's family has to send Khatag and other gifts to every member of the lady's family. Contents of the engagement are more about mutual respect and love, showing filial piety for elders, good morality or inheriting fortune in future, etc. After the witnesses check the duplicate betrothal contracts, they will sign the contracts with the seals of the two families and pass them to both sides. Finally the lady's family will hold a banquet to celebrate the occasion. At the end of the banquet, each guest will be presented with Khatag upon leaving.
Tibetan Wedding Ceremony
Before the wedding, another auspicious day will be chosen for the wedding ceremony by the groom's family. On previous day of wedding ceremony, the groom's side sent a suit of beautiful clothing and a hair ornament wrapped by silk to the bride for wearing. On wedding day, the groom's side will find a man with good status to take a group of people and colorful arrows decorated with mirrors, jades and jewels, along with a finely decorated horse of pregnancy whose color match the bride's birthpet to bride's house. The bride's side will offer Qiema as a ritual of farewell before the groom's side arrives. As greeting bride party arrives, a colorful arrow will be plugged on the bride's back and a jade will be put upon her head to show bride now belongs to the bridegroom's side. A bride maid from the bride's side is sent to escort her in the greeting party. When bride leaves, someone of the bride's family will hold a colorful arrow in one hand and a mutton leg in another, standing in any high place and shout out "don't take away fortune of the family" until the bride's greeting party is out of sight.
In the company of family, the bride is about to head towards to the groom’s.
The convoy is usually led by the astrologist, who wears a white gown. He rides on a white horse and holds a picture of the Nine Courts and Eight Diagrams. Following behind are the welcoming group, the bride, accompanied by a bride maid on her side, and finally members of the groom at the end. The whole team sings loudly all the way while the bride weeps due to her separation from her family.
On the way, the family members of bridegroom are waiting beside the road and toast to the greeting party for three times. If coming across patients carried, people who are dumping garbage or carrying empty basket, the greeting party deems it as bad omens. If so, monks should be invited to chant scriptures for removing ill fortune after wedding days. All greeting members are chanting XieQin in the proceed while bride is crying.
The groom’s relatives are expecting the bride’s coming.
Before the arrival of the bride, the groom would have the gate decorated and a cushion of barleys laid in front of his house. The cushion is covered with a piece of colorful embroidered cloth, on the top of which are some kernels in the shape of the propitious swastika. His family members welcome the bride with chang and chemar (a propitious funneled box with barleys and Tsambas separately put inside and butter sculptures stuck onto).
Tibetan marriage couple are watching the show in the living room.
Upon arrival at the groom's house, the bride has to tramp on the road with barleys and tea leaves, symbolizing the harvest she is bringing into the family. After accepting the Khatag presented by the groom, she enters the house. The bride and groom will then sit together in the living room to receive good wishes, Khatag and other gifts from guests.
Wedding room in Tibetan style
Then the newly wed are sent to their room, where lamas recite sutras to bless them. The family holds a banquet for the guests. Friends and relatives will sing and dance to celebrate.
Family members are singing and dancing to bless the new couple.
During the night, they will play funny games to tease the couple. For some rich families, the wedding ceremony in Tibet could last as long as thirty days, but generally it lasts three days or two days.
Usually 3 or 6 months after the marriage, the newly wed will visit the bride's parents. The bride's family has to prepare barleys, swastika pictures and others to welcome them and exchange Khatag, yak butter tea, chemar and other gifts with each other. Only then is the whole wedding ceremony in Tibet considered completed.