Amanda and Sahan faced a dilemma as they planned their wedding at Crest Hollow Country Club. She is Christian and he is Buddhist, and they didn't know how to incorporate elements of both religions into the ceremony.
They came to the right person! I am the product of parents of two different religions who made the unconventional choice to raise me in one and my brother in the other. Our family always did things a little differently. Growing up, we celebrated everything and embraced both the commonalities and differences within our family in our own unique way. (Read more about My Story here.) Aside from my personal background, I also have lots of experience creating ceremonies for couples and families that combine elements and traditions from various cultures and religions.
The question they posed next though was something I definitely had not done before. Co-officiate with a monk? This was going to be an extraordinary experience for all of us!
Like all of my ceremonies, Amanda and Sahan's emphasized the things that they hold most important to them. We took some time to honor their friends and family, as they all played a part in shaping who these two had each become. I spoke about the qualities that the bride and groom each admired in one another and why they were choosing to marry.
The Maid of Honor read a Bible passage from the Corinthians, and the Best Man shared a Buddhist perspective of married life. (See below for full texts.) The monk, clad in his bright orange drapery, blessed the wedding rings before they were exchanged, and led a meditative chant. I later invited the fathers of both the bride and groom to come forward for the Sri Lankan unity ritual of tying the couple's pinky fingers together in a nuptial knot, representing the couple's lives being tied together in unity and strength.
As the wedding party recessed and I followed down the aisle with the monk alongside me, I was thankful to have been given the honor of celebrating love in yet another unique way.
Kind words from the couple...
1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
A Buddhist Perspective of Married Life
In advising women and men about their role in married life, the Buddha appreciated that the peace and harmony of a home rested largely on a woman. His advice was realistic and practical when he explained a good number of day to day characteristics which a woman should or should not cultivate. On diverse occasions, the Buddha counseled that a wife should:
1. always be attentive and chaste in mind and action;
2. be faithful and harbor no thought of any adulterous acts;
3. be refined in speech and polite in action;
4. be thoughtful and compassionate towards her husband;
5. be modest and respectful;
6. be calm and understanding — serving not only as a wife but also as a friend and advisor.
Knowing the psychology of the man who tends to consider himself superior, the Buddha made a remarkable change and uplifted the status of a woman by a simple suggestion that a husband should honor and respect his wife. A husband should be faithful to his wife, which means that a husband should fulfill and maintain his marital obligations to his wife thus sustaining the confidence in the marital relationship in every sense of the word and also by giving her the requisite authority to manage domestic affairs.
This advice, which was mentioned in the sigalovada Sutra, over twenty five centuries ago, still stands good for today, which emphasizes that love, trust and faithfulness will go a long way in having a happy and prosperous marriage.