Marriage Ceremonies of the Kandians.

THE day and hour of the wedding are fixed by an astrologer or wise man, the bride's horoscope having been previously compared with that of the bridegroom's by the same sage, who declares if the planetary influence will allow them to wed. The astrologer being well paid, and, as there are four methods by which configurations and a favorable result may be arrived at, the stars generally prove propitious to the projected union. It sometimes happens that the horoscopes of the intended bride and bridegroom, despite the strenuous endeavors of the astrologers, will not coincide, and then an infant brother or relation of the bridegroom takes his place at the wedding- feast, provided his horoscope will agree with that of the lady's. Such a marriage is legal, the evasion being regarded as a necessary concession to the will of the planets.

The wedding takes place at the bride's residence, where a mandoo (or temporary bamboo building covered with mats) is erected; in this structure the feast is prepared for the male part of the company, the ladies eating alone in the dwelling, the roof of which is hung with white cloth.

The bridegroom sets out on the wedding-day for the lady's abode, attended by as numerous a train of relations, friends, and dependents as he can muster, the latter bearing the bridal gifts, which consist of jewels and wearing apparel for the bride, cooked food (which is placed in a decorated pingo, or basket, and covered with a new white cloth) and fruits for the guests. As soon as the nuptial train approaches the bride's abode, her relations and friends sally forth to meet it, servants following, bearing two trays covered with white cloth, on which betel leaves are spread, which are presented to the bridegroom's friends. When the distribution of the betel leaves is terminated, both parties form one procession, and walk toward the house, the bride's relatives and friends preceding the bridegroom's. Upon entering the bride's residence, if the bridegroom is a chief, or wealthy man of rank, his feet are bathed by a servant, a piece of money being thrown into the water, which becomes the fee of the domestic. Among the lower castes and poor, this ceremony is performed by a younger brother, or near relative. The host then requests the bridegroom and male guests to enter the mandoo and seat themselves according to their rank and seniority, the hostess requesting the females to follow her into the inner apartment, and do the same.

When all have partaken of the good cheer and viands, and the meal is terminated, the bridegroom's nearest unmarried relative enters the ladies' apartments, and requests permission to bring in the gifts. Being answered in the affirmative, the bridegroom, attended by his friends, enters, some of them bearing the wedding presents. A platform of jackwood, covered with white cloth, is then placed in the middle of the apartment, in the center of which a quantity of rice is piled up in a conical form, around which are placed young green cocoa-nuts, bunches of bananas, and betel leaves; various coins, either of gold, silver, or copper, are also laid on the rice. When the astrologer intimates that the fortunate moment has arrived for the union to take place, a cocoanut is severed in twain at one stroke, which result is given with a small implement resembling a bill-hook; the bride is then led forward by her mother and a near relative (who is the mother of a numerous family,) and by them is lifted on to the pile of rice, her face being turned in the direction in which the astrologer states the presiding planet is placed in the firmament.

The bridegroom then advances, bearing the wearing apparel and jewels with which the bride is to be decorated; the mother of the bride then proceeds to take off the bride's trinkets, and removes the jeweled pins from her head, replacing them with the jewels and pins which are presented by the bridegroom. Lastly, the bridal cloth, or comboy, is presented to the mother, which becomes her perquisite, and the value of the same can be recovered by the husband if he should divorce his wife for infidelity at a future period; but all the jewels given to the bride on her wedding-day are her property, and her husband can never reclaim them under any circumstances. As soon as the toilette of the bride is completed, she distributes betel leaves to every guest assembled; the bridegroom then advances and pours a little sandal wood oil or cinnamon water on the head of the bride, and draws a thread from her comboy (or petticoat) with which the father or nearest male relative of one or other of the contracting parties, ties their little fingers together. The bridegroom then hands the bride down from the jackwood platform, and they advance about six paces, when they pull their hands apart, thus severing the thread. Occasionally, marriage rings are exchanged, instead of tying the little fingers together, but the latter is most generally adopted.

The bridegroom leads the bride to another room, where a repast has been prepared for them and the near relatives of both (the other guests not entering the room); the newly married couple partake of this food from the same vessel, as a token of acknowledgment that they are of equal rank. When the repast is concluded, the bridegroom drops some money in the vessel in which his food was placed, and the relatives throw some coins about the table, which are the perquisite of the washerman of the bride's family, and the table-cloth is also given to him.

The bride, if in Kandy, and married in Eeega, is conducted in great state to her husband's home; but, if married in Beena, the guests disperse, leaving them to enjoy their newly-acquired happiness. Until the third, and with rigid Buddhists, until the seventh, day after their marriage, the newly-married people do not lay aside their bridal garments and part of these garments they have about them night and day. On the third or seventh day, the bride's relatives come to her dwelling, bringing presents of fruit, boiled rice, vegetable curries, and flowers; the jackwood platform is again bedecked, and the husband and wife, in their bridal attire, are seated side by side upon it. A relative of either party then advances, and simultaneously pour a chatty of water on the heads of the husband and wife. The couple then retire and take off their bridal garments, and the following day go to bathe; after which the bride's friends pay a last ceremonious visit, and the marriage rites are concluded.

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Reformated Text in HTML put Online at with their Permission.

Title: Marriage Ceremonies of the Kandians
Author:Sirr's Ceylon and the Cingalese.
Journal:The International Miscellany of Literature, Art, and Science.
Print:Volume I, No. 4 - 1850 November 1, p.590 p.591
Publisher:Stringer & Townsend New York, USA

Editors Note: The OCR text was reformatted and carefully Proof read by Seneca.

Please also see notes on other interesting articles like this that have been put online in the Digital Library Collections of MoA.