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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wedding Traditions

I finally received an invitation to a Jewish wedding. There was a time in my life when I met and befriended many Jewish couples, but always they were on their honeymoons, so I never got to attend the wedding.

This wedding was held in the community of Wimbledon. The bride was the youngest of four sisters and the last to be married. No expense was spared and the event was a first class production. I was  very much impressed, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Just getting to the wedding was a whole story in itself as on that day the Ride London+100 mile took place that involved up to 80,000 cyclists, and we had to cross their path, on foot, three times. If you ask me, I think we must have had a death wish. That apart, I got to thinking about wedding traditions and customs. This arose because close friends attended a Hindu wedding a couple of days later, and we compared notes. Surprisingly, we discovered similarities between the two ceremonies that are different to Christian weddings.

In all three ceremonies it is customary that bride and groom do not see one another shortly before the wedding day. The language of the service is according to the religion: Hebrew, Sanskrit, and English or nationality.

In both the Jewish and Hindu ceremonies the couple stood on a raised stage under a canopy, while usually in British Christian ceremonies bride and groom and party are on the same level as the congregation.

In all three the bride is still, in these modern times, given away. I only mention this because modern young women are so independent I'm surprised they follow this tradition. After all, no one gives the groom to the bride.

The Hindu couple take seven steps, and the Jewish bride walks around her husband seven times. There is no similarity in the Christian service.

Hindu and Christian weddings usually take place inside a temple or a church, while Jewish weddings traditionally take place out of doors.

After being declared husband and wife the couple are showered as they pass along the line of well-wishers. Rice has been the preferred material but is hellish to clean up, so soft rose petals are generally used in all three situations.

At the celebrations that follow, both Jewish and Hindu couples were sat in chairs and hoisted by strong men and danced around the room. That simply doesn't happen in Christian weddings in England. Something to do with health and safety, no doubt.

As usual, when we do comparisons we find that we are more alike than we are different. Ours is a very small world and it really is better when we all get along.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael