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Last update: 07/17/2012
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The Lanna wedding tradition
Lanna Wedding Today
            The Lanna wedding nowadays has adapted to fit with the modern times. Some wedding rites of the central region have been blended in with it. It is preferable for the venue of the wedding to be at the girl's house as it is their custom for the groom to move in with the girl's family. So, after the engagement, the man's side will look for an auspicious day for the wedding. This rite requires quite a lot of preparation as follows:
1. Preparation at the girl's house involves making a new bed and mattress, mosquito net and bedroom.  Sometimes, the girl will weave the cloth to make the mattress herself.  Further preparation included getting new bed sheets, blankets and pillows.  A few days before the wedding, they have to do a major cleaning of the house and decorate it with flowers and plants.
2. They have to inform and invite people in the community and some guests of both sides at least one week ahead.
3. The food menu needs to be considered and some men and women in the neighborhood will be asked to help with the cooking.
4. The groom has to prepare the betel nut tray (khan mak) and other things for the wedding such as a box of new cloth, a sword, a bag for his belongings, a betel nut bowl, a flower bowl to pay respect to the girl's parents and the elders, banana tree trunks, sugar cane stalks (two each), a dowry bowl, an engagement bowl (for the engagement ring and other gifts of jewelry as well as money), and in some cases a mattress, pillows, a mosquito net and some blankets (unless the bride has agreed to take that responsibility).

There can be a great procession to take these things to the bride's house.
5. In the morning of the wedding day, they will have the ritual of paying respect to the guardian spirit of the four directions, which is performed by an elder who is an expert on this.  They may have to prepare everything necessary for the ritual or request that the elder prepare it for them.

Asking for the groom (kho khoei)
            In the morning of the wedding day, after everything has been done accordingly, the elder from the bride's side who is a good speaker will lead a group to go to the groom's house and ask for him from his parents by presenting them with some flowers, a candle and incense sticks and sweetly persuade them to give permission (Prakhong Nimmanhemin and Songsak Prangwattanakun, 1978, p.109).
This is also to ask the elders and parents of the groom, as well as other relatives, to lead the khan mak procession to the girl's house. They have to arrive there at the auspicious time they have selected. The request for the groom (son-in-law) is made by saying, "We come today to ask you for your precious gem to be put in our house so that we'll be blessed with many good things,"
whereas the groom's parents have also prepared a flower tray and betel nut tray to receive them (Silao Kateprom, 2001, p.51) and they will rely, "We love our son dearly like the apple of our eye. Whether good or bad situations may occur in the future, please be kind and instruct him." If the bride and the groom live in the same community, they will walk in a procession. But if they live far from each other, they will go by car and arrange for the party to come and stay at one of the relatives' houses in the same community as the bride.

Khan Man
            An interview with Professor Manee Phayomyong on December 3, 2008 revealed that on the selected auspicious day for the wedding, the groom and his relatives and guests will come and start the procession of khan mak.

The procession is led by the group that carries the flower tray, bai si tray (unless the bride provides the bai si tray). The groom will carry a sword across his shoulder signifying a strong man.
Following him are rows of people who carry khan mak, a cloth box, banana tree trunks and sugar cane stalks, and so on, with some people playing music on a gong, drums, cymbals, etc. to create a festive atmosphere. When they reach the bride's place, they will send a representative to invite all who came in the procession to come into the house or the ceremonial place.
            For the groom to enter the bride's house to meet her, he will have to talk to some people who will block the entrance with a silver belt to force the groom to pay a certain fee – this is called "the silver gate" (pratu ngoen). After that the groom will encounter the same block but this time with a golden belt known as a "gold gate" (pratu thong). After he manages to satisfy them with the fee, he will be able to pass into the house to negotiate by saying:

"Well, where are all of you going? There are so many of you."

"We bring to this house a precious gem to keep."

"My house has a silver gate and a gold gate. You can't enter so easily."

"That's alright. How much is the fee that would satisfy you?

".........."(the negotiation of the fee).

            Another version of the negotiation is when the groom' procession reaches the bride's house, the groom has to get someone who is a good speaker who will persuade them wit a nice speech full of symbolic language (Buason Thanombun, Interview, Nov. 8, 2008; Inta Laokham, Interview, Nov. 8, 2008).

"What are you doing here? Why have so many people come?"

"Today we bring you a good tree trunk to be planted, seeing that your place has such good soil and water."

"Our house has both a silver and gold gate. We can't let you in so easily. You have to pay a fee to enter."

"How much?"

“……….” (negotiation of the fee).

After they agree on the fee, the groom will say, "Today is a good day, an auspicious day. We bring a precious gem to be set in a ring. We bring some gold to join with yours to be of the same sheet. So, will you the bride's folks be kind to me?"

Then, the elder from the bride's side will reply, "Today is a good day when a man and a woman will live together and help build a house, so please come in."

Spirit calling and wrist tying of the bride and the groom
            After the groom has passed the silver and gold gate to the ceremonial place, both the bride and the groom will pay respect to the elders or parents of both sides.

The parents take them to the front where the bride will sit on the left side of the groom. Then the parents and elder relatives and the master of the ceremony will put a cotton thread ring each of their heads. The rings are linked with a cotton thread.

Then the master of the ceremony will chant a prayer to call their spirit to be with them and bless them to love each other forever. The chant is recited in the Lanna language which sounds fascinatingly sweet.
Then he will perform the casting away bad luck ritual to ensure that the couple will have good health and be clear of all problems. The elder people of both the relatives will take the groom and bride by the hand and lead them to the bedroom. On their bed will be some flower petals strewn about in a appealing way. The parents or the honored guests who are married and have lived happily and prosperously together will lie down on the bed as an example for the newlywed couple before the two lie down together for a few seconds. After that the parents and elders give them advice and tips for a long lasting marriage. This is called a "son bao son sao" (teaching the bride and groom) as follows:
            "The two of you should love each other and let the husband be the gem and the wife be the light (shining brightly together) Do not behave like a devil husband and demon wife. May your house be filled with children and may you love each other till death take you away. If the husband acts like fire, the wife should be water. If the husband acquires money, the wife will keep it well (Manee Phayomyong, Interview, Dec. 3, 2008).
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