Brandon and I started by paying our respect to the Buddha images. (Yes. Brandon did kraab—prostrates—3 times to the Buddha and the monks. We practiced that before hand. My mom was quick to remind him later as he kraab my parents that he only needed to do it once for people. Heh.) Then we moved to the head monk to say the prayer to start the ceremony.
The monks began their group chants. It went on about 20-30 minutes. Toward the end, the head monk reached for the broom-like item, dipped it into the holy water (Naam Monn), and raised up his arm. Thai people knew that was the cue to bow your head because the monk was about to flick that arm, sending the holy water everywhere and at all the guests to bless them. Farang folks didn’t possess such knowledge. They were looking at the monk, looking to see what was going on.
Brandon took an eyeful of holy water. Ditto a few other folks.
See? The downside of not having a translator on site for this event.
After the chanting was finished, the head monk called us over. He wrote a blessing symbol on Brandon’s forehead with the water-powder paste, kind of like what people use for Songkran but blessed. The symbol was somewhat like the squiggly line on the roof of Richard’s car, with the tail going up into the hairline. The monk told Brandon to do the same on my forehead.
That was one part of the wedding we didn’t practice for. Nobody remembered about the squiggly line. So what did Brandon do? He smudged a straight line up my forehead as if it was a Native American war paint. I heard the Thai adult guests snickering at Brandon’s attempt, along the line of “Oh. Whoops. We should’ve told him about THAT.”
We went back to our seats once more so we could kruad naam. Together, we poured water from a small brass vase into another bowl as a way to send the merits we made this morning to our grandparents who had passed on. That water later was poured out onto a tree (not bushes).
Then we exchanged our rings. Well, we tried to anyway. Brandon first put the ring on my finger. Then he presented me his right hand. I looked at him and tried to gesture with my eyes for him to give me the other hand. He didn’t get it so I had to verbalized in a quick mumble. Everyone laughed heartily as Brandon switched his hand, including us. And the monks.
And then came the sermon. It was about 15-minute sermon about the 5 things that will make the marriage successful. In Thai.
At the end of it, he put me on the spot to repeat the five things back to him, and then translated it to Brandon. I can only remember one out of five right now: Do not have “light ears”. Hoo bao, which literally means just that, light ears, is a saying for someone who believes in gossips and things other people say. The monk said that to keep the marriage alive, you have to weigh down your ears with logic, reasons, and most of all, the words of your spouse. Don’t let others influence your marriage.
Good piece of advice. As for the rest, I have to hunt down my cousin for the wedding video and watch that. Hehehe.
Finally, our first task as husband and wife. We presented presented our offerings to the monks, flowers and buckets of goodies like socks and other amenities. Then we presented Brandon’s parents and our senior guests with gifts of clothes. Why clothes? I don’t know, but mom said that it’s traditions. And senior guests? Thai wedding has guests of honor of the most adult people in the family there, usually the grandparents. Ours were Uncle Don and Aunty Kim, friends of the family here in California.
The monks left the building. Then we began the blessing ceremony.
This was the point Brandon and I should have ran out to the bathroom. But we didn’t because we didn’t think it was going to take almost an hour for all of our guests to bless us by pouring holy water onto our hands. Running water and full bladders don’t mix, I tell ya.
The Rodd Naam—pouring water—ceremony is of Brahmin origin, just like many other Thai ceremonies. Brandon and I took position on the altar type contraption, kneeling with our hands hanging off just a tad so people can pour water from the conch shell onto our hands as they give us advise, warm wishes, and/or blessings. Uncle Don and Aunty Kim bestowed upon our heads the mongkol, white holy yarn, on our heads: two loops for each person and linked together by one string as a symbol of two lives now and forever connected. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen stood behind us.
The blessing procession started with our senior guests, everyone else, and rounded out by the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the groom’s family, the bride’s family, the groom’s parents, and ended with the bride’s parents who also took off the mongkol. They filed past us, pouring water onto our hands, into a decorated tray below, filled with flowers.
By the time we got to the groom’s men, Brandon and I had been fidgeting for good 5 minutes because we were in desperate needs for a bathroom break. Brandon’s best friends James, Paul, and Shane stepped up. One each muttered not a blessing but an inside joke, pushing our will power to the limit!
The photos afterward were quick. I begged people to be really quick about lining up and taking their shots because I didn’t want to have an accident in the temple on my wedding day. LOL.
Out the door and downstairs we went. I made a discovery that pantyhose and marble steps don’t particularly agree, and that my husband’s martial artist lightning fast reflex does come in handy when exiting the temple in a hurry! We emerged from our respective restrooms relieved and ready to offer food to the monks, and get some of the good Thai grubs for ourselves.
Despite the fact that most of the time, 80% of our guests including my in-laws, had no idea of what was going on in the temple that day, they said our wedding was one they won’t soon forget.
NEXT: The Thai-American hybrid reception, a truly international affair!