“The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.” There is no doubt that love is the most magical thing on earth and finding someone to deliver that kind of feeling is absolutely the best luck.
Many people hold the belief that marriage is a sweet result of love and weddings offer a great opportunity for couples to formalize their commitment. Marriage or any long-term intimate relationship is meaningful to some extent. It features a chance for the practice of compassion as well as wisdom.
Vietnamese Buddhists have their own way to tie the knot. This type of wedding ceremony usually takes place at a pagoda or monastery and follows Buddhist principles. It offers a sense of solemnity with the smell of burning incense, the orange-colored saffron robes, and the sound of chanting monks. This wedding is called “Hang Thuan” ceremony. Soak up this sacred atmosphere yourself and dig deeper into another delightful aspect of our Vietnam culture tour.
Hang Thuan ceremony in Vietnam (source: Internet)
1. The origin of Hang Thuan ceremony
Folks say that the very first person who came up with the idea of celebrating weddings right in the pagoda is an old master, namely Nguyen Trong Thuat, with the pen name of Do Nam Tu, from Hai Duong province.
He used to be a Confucian scholar, but then took refuge in the Three Jewels (Quy y Tam Bao). Thanks to his loyalty to Buddhism, he strongly believed that this practice would bring huge merits to the Buddhist followers’ married life, especially the moral one.
During the year of 1930, a philosopher, Le Dinh Tham, celebrated his first-born child’s wedding at Tu Dam Pagoda, Hue, marking it as the very initial one in the history of Vietnamese Buddhist renaissance.
In 1971, superior Buddhist monk Thich Thien Hoa officially named this wedding ceremony as “Hang Thuan”. It means “live in harmony forever with one another”.
2. What are the purposes?
When you luckily seek for yourself the right mate, it feels great at first. You somehow immediately feel that they are your missing piece. But life is indeed strange, and no matter how much you might love someone, a lot of factors play a part in having a happy marriage.
Staying married can be challenging if a long-term relationship cannot clear up misunderstandings and go through peaks and plateaus. From Buddhism’s perspective, love without preparation can easily lead to the demise of a marriage.
Vietnamese celebrities in their Hang Thuan ceremony (source: Internet)
Although the Buddhist view of marriage is an individual concern and does not regard it as a religious duty, Hang Thuan is considered as the way Buddhism plays a role in supporting the married life of Buddhist followers. Thanks to Vietnam culture tourism, Hang Thuan now gains increasing popularity.
Unlike some traditional ceremonies of a typical wedding, Hang Thuan ceremony strongly encompasses Buddhism’s spirit of ethics, and intelligence. It also offers detailed guidance on helping newlyweds have a bright future.
Hang Thuan ceremony offers a great opportunity to brides and grooms paying homage and taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Especially, the Abbot will preside over the wedding right in the Buddha shrine which is also very special and sacred. He will follow the Buddha’s teaching in the holy book and give advice for couples about married life.
Accordingly, there are 5 duties that a husband must follow:
- Respect his wife
- Don’t make accusations of impiety or mistreat his wife.
- Be faithful and loyal to his wife
- Believe, give property and money for his wife.
- Purchase jewelry for his wife whenever he can.
Simultaneously, the Buddha also teaches the wife five duties to follow:
- Acquit themselves well of duties in the home.
- Spoil her family in-laws
- Always be faithful to her husband
- Maintain jewelry and the interior furniture with care.
- Always be hard working and never shift their responsibilities onto others.
The main purpose of Hang Thuan ceremony is to raise awareness of the importance of having a moral basis for young couples. Hopefully, their married life will be truly harmonious and full of joy. If you are a Buddhist follower or a Buddhism believer, why not join Vietnam culture tours to have the best practical experience in a Hang Thuan ceremony.
3. The ritual of Hang Thuan ceremony
Basically, this ceremony is comprised of 13 main steps:
- It starts with the greeting and ushering of the monks and guests
- State the reason for the ceremony
Stating the reason is an indispensable part to kick off almost every formal ceremony celebrated in Vietnam, and Hang Thuan is not an exception.
The officiate will speak in front of all celebrants about Buddhism’s beliefs. Buddhists believe in the fate of marriage. This means that among millions of strangers, when two individuals meet and fall in love and finally have a wedding, this is their destiny.
- Introducing the types of participants.
This includes Most Venerable, monks, family, relatives, and friends.
- The speech of representative from both families.
This speech is usually conducted by the parents of the groom and the bride. It is usually a warm-hearted speech thanking Buddha, showing the bond to their children, sharing some special memories, and welcoming their future son-in-law or daughter-in-law to their home. They will kowtow three times in front of the altar of Three Jewels (Tam Bao).
- Bride and groom make their vow respectively.
Couple (either bride or groom) says thanks to the Buddha for allowing them to celebrate their ceremony in the solemn pagoda and giving the precious teaching. The newlyweds promise to support each other through thick and thin, as well as always share their sorrow and mirth.
- Bride and groom kowtow to their parents
Vietnamese have a haunting proverb: “The effort of a father is like a tall mountain, and the caring of a mother is like a flowing spring” (Cong cha nhu nui Thai Son, nghia me nhu nuoc trong nguon chay ra). As a way to show respect, making kowtow to their parents is considered a duty of both the bride and the groom in Hang Thuan ceremony.
- Bride and groom kowtow to show their respect to the marriage equality with their partner.
The husband-wife partnership is a monogamous and committed relationship in which they play an equal role. Kowtow to each other to show respect for one another.
- Couple signs the certificate issued by The Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam.
A hand written signature on a certificate is a commitment of the bride and groom with Buddha.
- The exchange of wedding rings.
Exchange the wedding rings (source: Internet)
Whether you are a Buddhist follower or a non-religious person, exchanging rings is usually an indispensable part of any wedding. A ring on the ring finger signifies that you belong to a special person.
- The Abbot preaches the significance of marriage and gives advice on how to live in harmony with each other.
- The ritual of praying for peace.
- Thanksgiving and tea break.
If you are participating in Vietnam culture travel, why not join a Hang Thuan ceremony right in a local pagoda.
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