The Village Wedding Day

Trip Start Oct 15, 2009
Trip End Dec 15, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The day of the wedding party in Sumalai's village has arrived. Baan Dorn Kaem is about 30 km from Khon Kaen City. It is a rice farming village like many other small villages in Isan, northeast Thailand. The rice is at the harvest stage and we could see people thrashing it with hand tools, even during the hot midday hour. Noah and Mark are at the ATM trying to withdraw enough money in cash for a proper "sin sort" or dowry offering to Sumalai's parents. In addition to the Baht bills, there will be gold jewelry and the engagement and wedding ring.

Noah went to a party in the village last night. He says that the family slaughtered and cooked 2 cows in honor of Sumalai (Aor) and for the wedding. Many friends of Sumalai's family helped to prepare food.

Sumalai's younger brother, Em, drove us to the village. When we arrived, we were greeted with some pretty ceremonial trays decorated with flowers, to display the sin sort upon. A procession, called the Khan Mahk ceremony began. We paraded joyfully to Sumalai's parents home with many people and a whole school of schoolchildren looking on.

Next Noah had to convince Aor's family that he was worthy of their daughter. The purpose of the dowry is to prove that the groom is financially able to support his bride. And in modern times, the dowry is often returned to the young couple, along with the money received from wedding guests, to help them begin their new lives together. That's a good thing for one young groom I happen to know.

At Aor's parents' home there were ceremonial ribbons representing doors and Noah had to buy his way in to his bride with even more money. We had a warm welcome from Jong, Aor's Mom and Wat, her Dad, and we met her grandparents and many family members. We were seated on mats on the floor for an engagement ceremony and wedding ceremony. The ceremony was performed by a respected village elder chosen to bestow good luck upon the couple and union. This lovely gentle man was in fact over 90 years old, and, he marrried Sumalai's parents some 30 + years ago.

Sumalai makes an absolutely breathtaking bride and Noah and interesting handsome "Thai-western" groom. and Sumalai look so happy together! We totally enjoyed the traditional Thai wedding ceremony. Not unlike our Jewish customs, the Thai ceremony is rich with ritual.

I have written and printed a program explaining the Thai wedding ceremony, to use at the wedding in Koh Samet on Sunday. I plan to paste the explanation into a later entry, so I won't describe today's ceremony in detail. Rather, when I get photos uploaded you will be able to see the happy couple and much of what we experienced!

The ceremonies lasted about 1 and 1/2 hours. Afterwards there was food and drink in a tent in the yard. We saw evidence of a big bash from the night before. Another one is planned for this afternoon and evening. The village wedding begins with the preparation and the party goes on and on. Noah did not encourage us to stay for the "drinking and karaoke." That's just as well since we will leave to fly to Bangkok and drive to Ko Samet in the morning.

We walked through part of the village to Aor's Grandfather and Grandmother's house. We also went to a nearby village and met Aor's other grandfather, her father's father. He is in his late 80's and still lives by himself with his son and daughter-in-law nearby.

We are grateful to Sumalai's lovely family for their warm hospitality,
and of course, for having accepted Noah into their family, loving and caring for him for many years already.

Congratulations Noah and Sumalai! One wedding down, one to go!
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