Marriage Customs

By: Song Shuhong, Tibet from all Angles
Updated: May 30, 2018

ln ancient Tibet, many aristocratic marriages reflected the deep-rooted concept of family status, and marriage customs were extraordinarily complex. There were various rules, rituals, taboos on the Process including mate selection, marriage offer, engagement, wedding and post-wedding matters, which established the model. With the social development and change of economic conditions, the original marriage customs of Tibetans changed accordingly.


Now, in Tibet, especially in the large cities like Lhasa, most of young men and women fall in love and marry freely, thus simplifying the various rituals including the marriage offer. As long as a couple seems compatible, their parents usually will not intervene. However, generally speaking, Tibetan families attach great importance to weddings. Before the wedding ceremony, a few things must be prepared: Tibetan-style tents hung with auspicious curtains, highland barley wine, buttered tea, beef and mutton. On the wedding day, the bride, groom and guests will wear gorgeous national costumes as long as they are Tibetan. At the agreed time, friends and relatives of newlyweds will receive guests beside the tent. After all are seated, the bride and groom and their parents will sit down. The official marriage ceremony follows a set course: an MC announces the start of the ceremony - monks or prestigious people chant scriptures in blessing - guests present hada to the newlyweds and their parents, sing and dance – entertainment - newlyweds toast the guests - burning bunches of aromatic plants - newlyweds present hada to the guests. The whole marriage lasts for one day but can go on for several; if it lasts several days, the toast to the guests by the newlyweds, burn bunches of aromatic plants and presentation of hada to the guests will take place on the final day.


With the changes of times, the traditional Tibetan wedding and the modern-style wedding have been combined gradually. The wedding ceremony maybe will be held in a rented tent, a dance hall or a hotel rather than the home of the groom or the bride. Tibetan costumes are not necessary for guests any more. In addition to highland barley wine and buttered tea, beer and liquor also play an important role. A buffet-style meal has become popular. Wedding entertainment has also been modernized, and the traditional ceremony simplified.


In short, marriage customs of Tibet are colorful, although different places have their own special features.