Two Years in the Kingdom- The Khmer Wedding

May 6, 2019

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is The Khmer Wedding Ceremony

Cambodian men traditionally don’t find a Khmer wife through means that those from Western culture are familiar. Marriages are often arranged through a matchmaker of sorts. Customarily, this mediator would approach the mother of the female and if the mother expressed interest then the mediator would inquire details of the young woman. Details such as the time, day, month and year of birth is required. Then the mediator would turn this information over to a monk along with the same information of the male to see if the birth details are compatible. If there is compatibility, then the family of the male would send a formal proposal to the family of the female. There may be several visits required by the mediator along with gifts to the family to establish a good relationship. If all goes well and the young womans family accepts the marriage proposal then the families will determine the wedding date.

The wedding ceremony has many components and can last for days.:

There is a monks blessing ritual. This is carried out first for the bride and then for the groom. This is an ancient ritual that is no longer required throughout most of Cambodia but is still performed in parts of Takeo and Kampot Provinces where I live.

Honoring the Ancestors. The bride and the groom pay homage to their ancestors by lighting incense, bowing and offering tea. This is a call to the deceased ancestors to view the bond and bestow their good wishes and blessings to the living family.

Knot Tying Ceremony. This portion of the ceremony when guests will have an opportunity to bestow blessings on the couple.

The Grooms Processional. This is when the groom comes to the home of the bride bearing gifts. I’ve participated in this portion of the ritual. It involves a people literally carrying fruit on trays to the home of the bride. Usually not very far, just a short distance. After the procession has entered the home the trays are arranged. The bride and the groom exchange rings at this time.  The number of people involved with this portion of the ceremony can be extensive so most people present the fruit tray and leave. In the last wedding I attended, I was invited to remain.  We were seated in two rows facing each other. The parents of the bride walked down the center between the rows, thanking those for the gifts. Then the bride and the groom, wearing traditional Khmer dress, walked down together while musicians played on traditional instruments. I would have liked to get pictures but nobody else was taking them and so it felt awkward but it is a beautiful ceremony. This takes place first thing in the morning.

Later that day, the event culminates with an evening of food and music. The food is exceptional. There is dancing- traditional Khmer dancing of course. Since I’ve attended a number of these celebrations, these are pictures from various weddings. Some of these pictures are from the wedding for the daughter of the chief from my Health Center.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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I write historical fiction. This one is set in 1880, Tombstone, Az for those that enjoy a good western. I did a lot of research on this one to keep it historically accurate.

It’s 1880, Denis and Hope McConell are on a train traveling through Indian Territory on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Denis has been hired as copyeditor of The Epitaph, the Tombstone newspaper owned by John Clum whose friends include the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday. Denis will be reporting on the events of the rapidly growing wild boom town. But after their arrival, he realizes that because of his association with the Clum and the Earps he has many dangerous enemies. After the loss of her husband, 19-year old Hope is on her own and forced to protect her infant daughter, a 15-year-old Chinese girl from the Chinese mining camp and a 15-year-old girl that had been forced into prostitution. She finds solace and friendship among the Chinese miners but they are under constant threat from brutal marauders who will stop at nothing, including torture and murder, to get what they want- silver. But the law will do nothing to protect the Chinese miners. Now Hope must now learn to defend herself and protect the others from the constant threat of danger with little resources and fewer options

 

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