Sinhala Wedding Traditions
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Ever wondered how Sri Lankan couples celebrate their everlasting love? For those who don't know, Sri Lanka is an incredibly unique island off the coast of India. The people pride themselves on hospitality, and smiling faces can be seen around any corner! From the commercial capital of Colombo with its historical significance to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the royal city of Kandy, to the beaches galore, the hillsides, and the national parks. Sri Lanka has a 2000+-year-old history and a never-ending list of amazing things to see and do!
Sinhalese weddings are packed with tradition and rituals.
Poruwa Ceremonies are central to Sinhala wedding culture and can range from simple to over the top extravagant!
A beautifully decorated, traditional wooden platform. Modern couples will design their Poruwa to represent various Sri Lankan communities at once, blending the Tamil and Sinhala traditions into one beautiful decoration.
A Poruwa is essentially an altar for the bride and groom to stand on before their guests. This platform usually includes a silk umbrella draped over the top.
Poruwas can be incorporated in many different ways. There's the large Poruwas the smaller, the extravagant and the minimalist, it really depends on the style of the bride and groom. A Pourwa is a beautiful way for the couple's style to really shine through. Click each image to be taken to the original files.
The start of any Sinhalese wedding begins with the bride and groom walking up to the Poruwa together, right feet leading, palms together, to face their guests.
The guests are split. The grooms family on the left and the brides on the right.
The Shilapadhipathi, hand the couple a handful of Betel leaves. They are handed back and placed on the Poruwa as an offering to the Gods
Next the brides father takes her hand and places it in her grooms hand. Formally "giving her away.
The groom's brother then hands him a tray of seven betel leaves. The couple places them with a coin on top around the Poruwa. This is to honor seven generations of family on both sides.
The groom's brother then gives him a gold chain to place around the brides neck.
The brides uncle ties the pinkies of the couple together with a thin gold string and pours water over their pinkies onto the ground. The water is poured onto the ground and it becomes the everlasting witness to the union. He finally turns the couple around three times clockwise on the Poruwa.
The groom hands the bride a white piece of cloth to give to her mother. This is a very sweet gesture on the grooms part, essentially saying, "I'm happy that you raised your daughter so well, good job and thank you."
While this is taking place the young girls of both families begin to sing a Buddhist chant called Jayamangala Gatha to bless the marriage. The groom's mother hands him a Saari to give to his wife, who then gives it to her mother. The two families are now one!
The couple feed each other a fried Sri Lankan pastry made by the brides' mother. It consists of milk, rice and kavum. And step down from the platform as a family member breaks a fresh coconut.
The Ceremony ends with the newlyweds lighting a brass oil lamp together. They promise to keep their love burning forever.
When the ceremony is over, the guests go to a reception which is entirely up to the couple. Should they choose to have a western reception, so be it. It is likely to be wonderful either way.