Theravada Wedding and funeral

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Theravada Wedding and funeral

Post by clw_uk » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:05 pm

How is a wedding performed in Theravada

I know Buddha never concerned himself with marriage in the same way that Jesus and Mohammad did and I cant seem to find much information online about how its performed

Is it just performed according to the local customs etc?

I have the same questions for a funeral as well

Also where in the UK can you have a Buddhist wedding and funeral? Does anyone know if Amaravati does it?
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Re: Theravada Wedding and funeral

Post by culaavuso » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:26 pm

From Early Buddhist Ceremonies by Sayadaw Bhaddanta Silanandabhivamsa:
Sayadaw Bhaddanta Silanandabhivamsa wrote: For Buddhists, marriage is totally secular and has nothing to do with religion. No Bhikkhus in Theravada countries officiate at marriage ceremonies. Neither are marriage ceremonies performed at Buddhist Viharas, Temples or Pagodas. They can be done at any convenient place other than the places already stated.

Ways of ceremony may differ with the place where the individual concerned lives. As marriage is secular in its nature, the individual is free to follow the custom of the place or country in so far as the tenets of Buddhism are not impaired. It is, therefore, not allowable for the marriage to be held. e.g., in a Christian Church, or to have it been officiated by a Christian. The best place to have a marriage ceremony performed is at one's own house, or if the house is not big enough for the gathering, the town hail or some other suitable place. Marriage can be conducted by the parents of both sides, or by an elderly man respected by both families, or any other person whom the two sides choose. There will, no doubt, be rejoicings and feasts, which can be done freely.

But if the individual is desirous of having some religious flavour in marriage, he can do no better than invite some Bhikkhus, a day or two after the ceremony, and offer them food and requisites and request them to give advice or admonition to the newly-wedded couple. The Bhikkhus will recite some Parittas and one of them will give advice to the husband and wife. Buddha Himself gave advice to the maidens who were about to be married.
Also notable is The Bhikkhu's Rules: A Guide for Laypeople by Bhikkhu Ariyesako
Bhikkhu Ariyesako wrote: The major issue today seems more to center around divorce and the breakdown of marriage rather than arranging marriages. However one should note how these affairs can involve the bhikkhu and how he should guard against becoming too drawn in. (It is also noteworthy that this is considered one of the most serious offences.)

Ven. Udaayin caused this rule to be set down because he involved himself in arranging many marriages and liaisons. When some of these failed, they blamed him for the failure. The offence is summarized:

"Should any bhikkhu engage in conveying a man's intentions to a woman or a woman's intentions to a man, proposing marriage or paramourage — even if only for a momentary liaison — it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community. (Sangh. 5; BMC p.117)
A bhikkhu should not officiate at weddings,[48] except perhaps to chant a blessing afterwards and encourage the newly married couple to lead virtuous and faithful lives together based in generosity, virtue and meditation. He also has to be circumspect when counselling couples. (There is no offence in reconciling a married but estranged couple as long as they are not yet divorced.)

[48]: "It is mainly as a result of this guideline that bhikkhus do not perform marriage ceremonies, that is, a bhikkhu should not in any way be instrumental in actually formalizing the relationship. There is, however, no fault in blessing the couple after they are formally married or in reconciling an undivorced couple who have separated (Vin.III.144)." (HS ch.13)

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Re: Theravada Wedding and funeral

Post by culaavuso » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:48 pm

Regarding funerals, there seems to be some information available in Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka by A.G.S. Kariyawasam.
A.G.S. Kariyawasam wrote: Among Buddhists death is regarded as an occasion of major religious significance, both for the deceased and for the survivors. For the deceased it marks the moment when the transition begins to a new mode of existence within the round of rebirths. When death occurs all the kammic forces that the dead person accumulated during the course of his or her lifetime become activated and set about determining the next rebirth. For the living, death is a powerful reminder of the Buddha's teaching on impermanence; it also provides an opportunity to assist the deceased person as he or she fares on to the new existence.

Both aspects of death — the message of impermanence, and the opportunity to help the departed loved one — find expression in the Buddhist funeral rites of Sri Lanka. Naturally, the monastic Sangha plays a prominent role in the funeral proceedings. One of the most important parts of the funeral rites is the ritual called "offering of cloth on behalf of the dead" (mataka-vastra-puja). This is done prior to the cremation or the burial of the body. Monks are assembled in the home of the dead person or in the cemetery. The proceedings begin with the administration of the Five Precepts to the assembled crowd by one of the monks. This is followed by the recitation in chorus of the well-known stanza:

Anicca vata sankhara, uppadavayadhammino.
Uppajjitva nirujjhanti tesam vupasamo sukho.
Impermanent alas are formations, subject to rise and fall.
Having arisen, they cease; their subsiding is bliss.

Next follows this ritual, which consists of the offering of a length of new white cloth to the monks. The cloth, called a pamsukula — literally, a dust-heap cloth — is intended to be cut into pieces and then stitched into a robe.

After offering it, the close relatives of the deceased sit together on a mat, assume a reverential posture, and together they pour water from a vessel into a cup placed within a plate until the cup overflows. While the water is being poured, the monks intone in unison the following stanzas extracted from the Tirokuddha Sutta of the Khuddakapatha:

Unname udakam vattam yatha ninnam pavattati
evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati.
Yatha varivaha pura paripurenti sagaram
evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati.
Just as the water fallen on high ground flows to a lower level,
Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed.
Just as the full flowing rivers fill the ocean,
Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed.

The context shows that the pouring of water in this manner is a ritualistic act belonging to the field of sympathetic magic, symbolizing the beneficial inheritance of the merit transferred by the living to the dead, as a kind of dakkhina or offering. The entire ritual is hence an act of grace whereby merit is transferred to the departed so that they may find relief from any unhappy realm wherein they might have been born.

Another funeral rite is mataka-bana or "preaching for the benefit of the dead." The usual practice is to conduct a monk to the house of the dead person, generally on the third day (or occasionally on any day within a week) after the funeral and to request him to preach a sermon suited to the occasion. Accordingly he preaches a suitable sermon for about an hour's duration to the assembled audience, which inevitably consists of the deceased's relatives and the neighbours of the household. At the end of the sermon, the monk gets the relatives to recite the necessary stanzas to transfer to the deceased the merits acquired by organizing the event. Following this, a gift is offered to the monk, and the invitees are also served with refreshments.

Three months from the date of death, it is customary to hold an almsgiving (sanghika dana) in memory of the deceased and thence to repeat it annually. As in the case of the rituals mentioned earlier, here too the purpose is to impart merit to the deceased. Hence it is called the offering in the name of the dead (mataka-dana). The basis of the practice is the belief that if the dead relative has been reborn in an unhappy existence (i.e., as a peta or unhappy spirit), he or she would expect his or her living relatives to transfer merit in this manner as these departed spirits or petas are incapable of performing any meritorious deed on their own. Even their hunger and thirst, which is perpetual, subside only in this manner. Hence they are referred to as "living on what is given by others" (paradatta-upajivi). This custom can be traced to the Buddha's own time when King Bimbisara was harassed by a group of his departed kinsmen, reborn as petas, because the king had failed to give alms to the Buddha in their name. Once this was fulfilled as requested by the Buddha, the petas became happy and ceased to give any more trouble (KhpA. 202f; PvA.19ff). This was the occasion on which the Buddha preached the Tirokuddha Sutta referred to earlier, which further says that once these rites are performed, these contented spirits bless the donors in return.

These rites, it may be mentioned here, resemble the sraddha ceremonies of the Hindus in some ways. And it is also significant that, according to the Buddha himself, only the dead relatives who have been reborn as petas are capable of receiving this benefit (A.v, 269ff.).

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Re: Theravada Wedding and funeral

Post by cooran » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:00 pm

This link may be of use - also the references at the bottom - good old Wikipedia:

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Re: Theravada Wedding and funeral

Post by chownah » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:37 am

I think that for a Theravada wedding you should just be very careful to not have any empty rituals.

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