Religions offer wedding traditionsWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
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For most brides and grooms traditions they participate in on their wedding day, or days, are often founded in their religion or culture.
In Judaism the bride and groom are married under a chuppa, religious canopy, to symbolize God’s presence, said Rabbi Moshe Saks of Congregation B’nai Israel.
Many Jewish brides and grooms sign the ketuba, or marriage contract, before the wedding, with passages read from it during the ceremony.
“The ketuba was the first legal document that said ‘yes the man acquires the woman, but he has obligations’,” Saks said. “The ketuba is the bride’s possession. Traditionally it’s her protection against her husband who might not turn out to be such a great guy.”
The document has no legal binding today and has basically become an art form for the bride and groom, Saks said.
During traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies, the bride circles the groom seven times, circling him with love. The bride can also circle the groom three times, the groom circles her three times and the pair circle each other once, Saks said.
Other traditions include placing the ring on the pointer finger, signifying the legal act of acquiring one another, and the wearing of a talit, prayer shawl, by the groom.
Another well known Jewish tradition is the breaking of a glass, Saks said. The tradition dates back to an ancient wedding where a rabbi threw a plate against the wall questioning the celebration while the temple was still destroyed, Saks said.
Saks uses the shattering of the glass for a more universal message.
“At the very happiest moment in you life the point when you’re actually married you break the glass to remember there is a little sadness in the world,” he said. “It’s the Jewish point of view. The Jewish point of view is you can be happy and you can be sad, but it is never good to do only.”
In Catholicism, marriage is one of seven sacraments, said Father Gregory Hite of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. Preparation for life after the wedding is the focus of the church, he said.
“The church is not in the business to offer a venue for a wedding ceremony, but to prepare the couple for the dynamic of married life and living,” Hite said.
Individuals seeking to marry in a Catholic Church must take four classes with the priest or deacon who will perform the marriage ceremony.
The first class introduces the bride and groom to the priest. During the second class, the bride and groom go through the results of a marriage assessment, Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understand and Study (FOCCUS). The third session couples attend a day long event with other couples preparing for marriage.
The final session is the ceremony, Kite said.
Additionally, in the Catholic Church, all music played during the ceremony must be of a religious nature, Hite said.
“A marriage is an event of faith and everything we celebrate is meant to be an expression of that faith,” he said.
Within Islam, some female Muslims wear a hijab, a scarf head covering and the practice of dressing modestly from head to toe. On brides who wear a hijab may practice two separate receptions—women in one and men in the other.
Any time a woman is not covered with the hijab, men, excluding immediate family, must be in a separate room. The separate wedding receptions allow the women to get dressed up and remove their hijab and dance with each other.
“I’ve been to both kinds of weddings,” said Du’aa Elnoory, whose sister had two separate receptions. “It’s a lot more fun. I feel like the ones a lot more relaxed have a lot more fun with it because it’s all girls in one big party.”
Most Islamic weddings are a simple ceremony, but what happens before and after the marriage ceremony is influenced by culture, said Cherrefe Kadri, past president and spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.
“Its pretty simple. There’s no real traditional Islamic wedding. Traditions come when looking at the different cultures within Islam,” she said.
The Islamic Center represents individuals from more than 22 countries and wedding traditions they partake in are often cultural. The one tradition that remains the same throughout the religion is there is no alcohol at weddings or wedding receptions because Islam forbids alcohol, Kadri said.
In Lebonn, Islamic wedding receptions in villages are a fun celebration in the evening. There are no real invitations and everyone close by usually come, Kadri said.
Pakistani weddings in Islam are a minimum of three days, said Rehana Ahmed a Pakistani member of the Islamic Center.
The first day is a Mehndi, a party in the evening. The bride and groom wear yellow with the bride wearing jewelry made of fresh marigolds, Ahmed said. All guests wear various shades of yellow as well, she said.
The evening consists of a meal, singing, dancing and everyone having some sort of henna applied to the hand.
The second day the Nikah, or wedding ceremony, is performed. The religious ceremony is performed in front of a gathering, either by a pious Muslim, devout Muslim, or the Imam, Ahmed said.
The Nikah traditionally takes place at the bride’s home, she said.
The groom will come with an entourage of his family and will be given gifts by the bride’s family. Following the ceremony and celebration, the groom’s entourage will take the bride back to their house. At the groom’s house, the bride will also be given gifts and money welcoming her to the family.
On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom both wear bright colors, Ahmed said.
On the third day the Walima, a celebration of the consummation of the marriage, takes place. At this event the bride will wear traditional clothing and lots of jewelry.
This day features a dinner hosted by the groom’s family, Ahmed said.
In Zen Buddhism, the bride and groom exchange flowers in addition to exchanging rings.
“Buddha also exchanged flowers with his wife to be in one of his previous lives. So the couple exchange flowers and take each other as spiritual friends,” said Haju Sunim, resident priest at the Zen Buddhist Temple in Ann Arbor.
The Zen Buddhist wedding ceremony is made up of lots of rituals and not much spoken word, Sunim said.
The bride and groom enter in a meditated and mindful way, lighting incense and make an offering of tea on the altar.
During the ceremony the pair also bow to one another symbolizing the mutual respect for each other and their shared lives as equal partners. The bride and groom also bow to their parents signifying the debt they have to their parents for their upbringing.
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