NYONE who has gone through it knows that weddings can be a trial, especially for the ones most involved, the couple. In Myanmar, even setting the date can become quite a complicated affair. Just ask Zin Mar Soe and Htay Htay, who are at their wits’ end about what they have to do to marry their partners. And it has to do with culture and beliefs.
Zin Mar Soe is worried she won’t be able to get married in 2017 to her boyfriend of five years, and not because of any rift between them. She wishes to get married during the first week of July to commemorate the day they fell in love – and that’s the issue. Unfortunately, according to the Myanmar calendar, next July falls within the Buddhist Lenten period.
Usually that is not so, but since 2017 coincides with the Myanmar intercalated year (in which a 13th month is inserted), Lent will start before July 2017.
Buddhists have a belief that it is not good to hold a wedding ceremony, start a new household or move into a new abode during the three-month Lenten period. To Zin Mar Soe, this is a big hurdle.
“First of all, we were planning to get married this year. But due to some reasons, we had to postpone the wedding day to next year. Now I’m totally perplexed, as I do not know how to proceed with our plans. Both of us have picked the anniversary date of becoming lovers to get married. I don’t know how to rearrange it now. Our parents will not agree if we choose our wedding day during Lent. If some problems occur in our future married life, they will always be chiding us for choosing the wrong day for our wedding,” Zin Mar Soe said.
Htay Htay, who runs a business, ran into a different problem. She wanted to be married before May when she celebrated her 30th birthday. According to the advice of an astrologer, she had to do so before reaching 30. But due to unavoidable circumstances, she had to postpone the date to December.
“I had planned to have my wedding before I completed my 30th birthday, because I believe that all good things would happen if I did so and I would have to face all kind of troubles if I didn’t. But there were some issues and I had to reschedule my wedding date. I could have hastily got married in May, but it would have been so disorganised and so I finally decided to delay it,” she said.
Increasingly, it appears, culture and beliefs are clashing with what the young desire. Romance figures high on the list of young couples who choose to wed on Valentine’s Day or some other significant day in their lives, like Zin Mar Soe.
“Previously, most people used to choose a Saturday or Sunday first. Then they would look whether that weekend falls on an auspicious day or not. But nowadays, some couples just select a milestone date in their lives, like the date they first met, without checking out if it’s propitious or not,” Ma Khin La Pyae Wunn, manager for wedding arrangements at Summit Parkview Hotel, said.
She added that most weddings occur in October and November after the end of the Buddhist Lenten period. The next most popular month would be February, followed by May. With very few exceptions, most Buddhists shy away from getting married during Lent.
Besides choosing their wedding day, couples also have a hard time selecting food and catering services for the day. Most try to be practical, choosing wedding halls that would have sufficient car parking space and locations convenient for their guests, said Khin La Pyae Wunn, a wedding planner with over 20 years of experience.
“November, December, February and May are the most celebrated wedding months. May comes before the Buddhist Lent begins. Once the Lent is over, Buddhist lighting festivals – Thadingyut and Tazaungdaing – fall usually in November. December is always a favourable month for celebrations while February is considered the most romantic because of Valentine’s Day,” said Treza, Chatrium Hotel’s marketing and communication deputy director.
“Some youths nowadays do not bother consulting astrologers to select auspicious days, though some still do so. In exceptional cases, some couples would choose dates that celebrate their ideal persons, countries or international observances. Choosing their anniversary date of their first love is still a popular choice,” Treza added.
Couples planning to marry in Yangon have to book a hall at their favourite hotel at least six to eight months in advance. Prices differ according to packages and with each hotel. A hall, services and food can cost from K5000 to K40,000 per head, with hotels requiring the minimum number of guests in order to make reservations.
Couples who can afford it also spend on what comes afterward, meaning setting up their new home and furnishing it. The tradition of having a well-decorated wedding bed is still alive, according to Casabella Home Furnishing Center marketing manager Austin.
He said that depending on quality, home and bedroom furniture and accessories can cost anything from K1 million. People have to order at least six months in advance to get what they desire. These days, newlyweds place special emphasis on their wedding bed, and prices for that can be between K10 million and K20 million, he added.
Translation by Emoon