Traditional wedding

Traditional wedding

Wedding ceremonies vary according to which ethnic group the bride and groom belong to. But all weddings must take place on an auspicious day, as advised by a [local lama in consultation with the traditional lunar calendar. Before the wedding date is negotiated, relatives of the groom gather at the bride’s home with a mass of presents. Historically the main presents were livestock, a tradition that continues in the countryside. The number of livestock which must be an odd number, depends on the wealth of the groom’s family.

The bride’s father is given special presents, including a pot of glue, symbolizing the strength of the future relationship between his daughter and her new husband. By accepting all these gifts the bride’s parents are also agreeing to the wedding. Both sides then discuss the date of the ceremony and consider the couple formally engaged. In the countryside, a groom to be prepares his new ger with the assistance of his parents. Tasks are clearly defined. The man always takes care of the ger walls and wooden furniture. The future bride’s responsibilities are to buy cooking pots and cleaning materials, and to prepare the stove and the layer of felt on the ger ceiling.

On the day of the wedding ceremony, the groom visits the bridal family with an elderly, respected member of the local community. When the two men arrive at the in law’s door, they will find it locked and have to persuade the family to open the door by uttering wise, appeasing words. Once they have charmed their way in, they are provided with arkhi and meat as they approach the new bride. Phrases such as “the deer hunter (husband) is ours and the sable sewer (wife) is yours. We hold both their fates in our hands and these fates have to be merged” are spoken.

The bride, dressed in her most elegant del, follows the groom and his companions to her new home, followed by her own closest friends. The party arrive on horseback and a carpet is rolled from the ger entrance to welcome them.

The bride traditionally enters her new ger by noon and a huge meal starts, with the first toast being offered to the father of the groom. For the rest of the day the two families, relatives and friends all seated round a large ceremonial table sing, eat and drink to celebrate the wedding.

The next morning, the new bride must open the smoke- holes of her own ger and that of her parents in law. Three days later her own parents visit the new couple.