Sri Lanka is a country where culture and historical practices are held to the utmost importance by the people. Never are these cultural practices more important that at traditional weddings; each and every part of the wedding ceremony is carefully choreographed and planned before hand so that it is accurate right down to the jewellery that is worn by the bride.
The concept of marriage was alien to the peasants of Sri Lanka until the arrival of the European colonials who brought with them the notions of marriage being a legal union. Until then, marriage was not a legal union and men and women entered into unions that were celebrated by festivals in which the entire village participated with great fervour. Today’s Sri Lankan wedding has aspects borrowed from traditional Sri Lankan culture as well as incorporating European influences.
The sari is the dress of choice for the bride, and most brides wear three saris during the course of the wedding. The bride usually wears a white sari during the Poruwa Ceremony – where the bride and groom stand on an ornate platform and exchange rings to the chant of traditional songs of good luck. The timing of this ceremony is determined by an astrologer who takes into account the birth times of the bride and the groom.
Guests are treated to a sumptuous banquet following the Poruwa Ceremony, where the newly married couple partakes in their first meal together; the timing of this meal is also determined by an astrologer. The banquet usually consists of traditional food based on rice floor; sweets made out of rice flour are also presented to the guests. However, many couples today opt for a western style buffet which has a selection of continental food as well.
The final event of a traditional wedding is when the bride and the groom leave their place of marriage to their new home. Traditionally this would be to the groom’s home though variations of this existed during Kandyan times, where sometimes the groom would move into the bride’s home. Another reception would be organized at their new home to welcome the new couple.