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As Celebrants we have the privilege of marrying people from all over the world. Roslyn McFarlane, Celebrant and valued member of The Celebrants Network has outlined a few cultural traditions from around the world.
One of the most prolific migrant groups in Australia are those from India. The Indian people who are Hindu enjoy one of the most colourful wedding ceremony traditions that is rich in ritual and culture.
While many of them prefer to have an “Australian" wedding others like to include some rituals and practices from their own cultures. This certainly adds Interest and colour to a wedding.
Even if a couple do not want a fully traditional marriage there are ways that we can include their customs into our Civil ceremonies for them.
There are some things that we do need to be aware of for certain nationalities, for example, couples from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal generally will not kiss in public. A suitable alternative to the couple kissing is to invite them to apply Sindoor. This is a red powder that is applied to the parting in the hair as a symbol of the marriage.
It is not appropriate to have white at most Indian weddings because this is the colour of mourning and is considered to be bad luck. It is important for a Celebrant not to have a white tablecloth on the signing table.
For most Indian brides the preferred colours are red and gold for their wedding dress.
An Indian bride will usually have a red sari heavily decorated with gold embroidery.
Celebrants can incorporate different elements of culture into the marriage ceremonies for their couples from the Phillipines. As well as having bridesmaids and groomsmen there are people who are close to the couple who are their sponsors. Often they are older relatives and they participate in the various rituals.
Most people from the Philippines are Roman Catholic and even if they are having a civil marriage ceremony they will want to include some elements of faith. A sponsor may enter before the couple carrying the bible after which another sponsor will read something from the scriptures to begin and/or close the ceremony.
The giving of the 'Arras Coins' also called the 'Unity Coins' is a tradition among couples from the Philippines, which originated in Spain. Thirteen coins are carried by a sponsor and after being blessed by the Celebrant (or priest) the couple take turns to trickle the coins into each other's hands. This represents the couple sharing everything and also it is a reference to the traditional promise to support each other “for richer or poorer”.
For couples where the family background is from Scotland the options for traditional practices are many and varied.
The women may wear a tartan sash and the men may wear a kilt.
The Handfasting Ceremony is a Celtic tradition which is very popular. For this the couple’s hands are tied (loosely) with a piece of each clan's tartan, ribbons or cords, which has led to the term ‘tying the knot'.
A less common ritual here is the “loving cup” or "Quaich". This is a small shallow two handled metal cup which is filled with whisky. It is presented to the each of the couple who hold the cup by both it's handles. This is to symbolize trust between the couple.
Whatever the nationality or cultural practice a Celebrant can include interesting rituals to show respect to the history and culture of the couple and their family.