Marriage in Bhutan
Published on 7th March, 2019 by Ugay Yangchea Lhamu
Like every other couples around the globe, so in Bhutan the uniting of two souls in the very name of marriage become husband and wife with heart full of hopes, happiness and attachments, trying to find home in each other for life. There is no special ceremony taking place at puberty and the next important stage is the marriage. The marriage can be a completely informal affairs or it can be a complicated ceremony, depending on the status of the families and the way the young people came to know one another. It can be a marriage of love or an arranged marriage; in the latter case, both the young people are consulted by their families about the choice of a partner, who usually belongs to the family of friends so they are already acquainted with each other. This kind of arranged marriage is unlike those in some other parts of Asia where the future spouses are total strangers. Moreover, there is always the possibility of refusing. Even in the marriage of love, the partners want their parents to approve of their choice .If the families disapprove, the young couple either complies with their parent’s wishes, or they run away together, presenting their parents with a fait accompli.
A Bhutanese wedding is much more than a simple exchange of vows and rings; it includes a number of religious rites and ceremony which represents the importance of the bond between husband and wife. A marriage between two people of affluent families is a social occasion. At an auspicious hour prescribed by the astrologer, bridegroom and his friends go to fetch the bride at her home and bring her and her friends back to his house. Two members of the family stand in front of the door holding a bowl of milk and a bowl of water, symbolizing prosperity for the new couple’s life. The marchang ceremony (hallmark of Bhutanese rituals) is performed next and then the couple sits down near the monks who intone the marriage ritual. The religious ceremony does not carry the same weight as the sacrament in some Christian weddings. The couple then exchange cups of alcohol and are declared man and wife. The families, followed by the well wishers, cover them with white scarves and the gifts pile up, especially fabrics that are always presented in quantities of three, five or seven. A copious meal (with plenty to drink) and dancing end the day.
Among members of the populations who are less well-off, young people simply start living together, thus declaring themselves married in the eyes of society. Very often the marriage is not even announced verbally; it is just a fact. Nowadays, the legal registration of a marriage is encouraged by the government but it is hardly ever practised outside the urban areas. Divorce is frequent and if it is the women who seeks the divorce, her new companion has to pay a fine to the former husband. This carries no disgrace and is an accepted norm within the country
However acquiring a marriage certificate is one of the most remarkable practised in Bhutan. It is the only source where the couple may not have to undergo huge audacity or the couple shall only be entitled to lay claims over properties on divorce. Meanwhile the sureties (male and a female) of both the bride and groom stand in the court resembling the persistence of happy marriage and advocating peace in the couple’s life.