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Last update: 07/17/2012
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The Lanna wedding tradition
Wedding Feast
            The Lanna style wedding feast is referred to as "kinkhaek taeng-ngan". It is often held for the married couple who are well off with honor, high rank or of a noble position like a nobleman or ruler or millionaire.
            The celebration is more elaborate and spectacular than the wedding of people in general. The ceremony often includes the betel nut and dowry items procession where the groom takes some betel nuts and leaves on a tray called "khan mak" along with a box of brand new fabric "hip phamai" which is specially woven for the occasion and a tray to ask forgiveness (khan suma) from the girl's father and mother. The ceremony is either for phit phi or courtship visitation or legitimate marriage proposal.
Phit Phi or courtship violation
            This is the custom of marriage proposal made after the man has violated the courtship ritual by touching the girl's body or having a sexual relationship with her before the marriage (premarital sex) which is called “phit phi”.  The manner is considered disrespectful to the girl's ancestors or her ancestral spirit.  Thus, he has to ask for their apology and pay a reparation fee.  The girl's parents will inform the man's parents about the violation so they can prepare the following things:
1. Flowers, a candle and incense sticks as required by her family such as 12, 16 or 36 bundles (being put in individual cone-shaped banana leaf containers).
2. Money in the amount and portion as the flowers, candle and incense sticks. In the past they used the Indian Rupee.
3. Some food for the spirit like whiskey, a pair of chickens, spicy mince meat salad, curry, fruit, sweets one betel nut, a small bundle of betel leaves.
            The oldest female member of the girl's family will present the sacrifice offering to the ancestral spirit saying,
            "Now, Mr. ….....Ms.......... has violated the custom and offended the ancestral spirit. Amy the spirit please be kind enough to forgive them and permit Mr. ...... to be a member of the household and may the ancestral spirit protect them from now on." (Manee Phayomyong, 1999, 355).
            After the candle and the incense sticks burn out the rite is over and the sacrifice offering (food) can be shared and eaten together among relatives. The manner to test if the rite is over can be done by picking up a handful of rice and counting it one grain at a time. If the grain of rice that is left is an odd number, it means that the spirit isn't finished with the offering yet, so they have to wait. After waiting a little longer, they can count the rice grains again and if it comes out an even number, it means the spirit is satisfied with the feast (Silao Katephrom, 48).
            A marriage that begins with offending the ancestral spirit will usually be kept among close relatives and not be a very big celebration. After asking for forgiveness from the spirit they will just look for an auspicious time for the groom to move in with the girl. The man can just come with a bundle of clothes and some valuables and a sword with him. The bride will hang the bag of clothes and the sword on the wall over their bed. Then, they live like husband and wife earning their living until they can afford a house and then leave the parents to be completely on their own.
Marriage by making a proposal
            This is a marriage procedure taken as soon as the man and the woman have courted for a while and the parents of both sides have approved the marriage. Then the man's senior relative (cha thoeng) will act as his representative to make a proposal and arrange for an engagement and/or wedding. The engagement items are as follows:

            1. Engagement bowl/tray
            This is usually a silver bowl with flowers and a package of engagement ring, necklace, bracelet and some other kinds of jewelry wrapped with a piece of red cloth placed in the middle of the bowl. Currently, they will use a red box cushioned by a sheet of bamboo leaves with some red rose petals sewn around the edge decoratively, which is more elaborate and fascinating.

2. Dowry bowl/tray
The money is usually wrapped in a piece of red or pink cloth before being placed in the silver bowl or tray.
            3. Betel nut tray
             The tray can be a red lacquered tray or a silver one with a cluster of 8 betel nuts (on one stem) and betel leaves wrapped in 4 sets (set of 4 leaves each).
Sometimes the betel nut can be decorated with the following items:
Betel leaves folded 1 packet

Fresh betel nut

Leaves of the silver plant  (bai ngoen) 12
Leaves from the gold plant  (bai thong) 12
Leaves from the copper plant  (bai nak) 12
Uncooked and husked rice 2 bags each
Beans and sesame seeds 2 bags each
            Almost everything used in this ritual was preferable in pairs to guarantee that the couple would always live together (Manee Phayomyong, 1999, 355). After the official proposal was settled, the parents of both sides would check on the auspicious time for the wedding and the engagement might also be held on the same day at the wedding.


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