Saturday 30 September 2017

Tibet Traditional Wedding

Tibetan wedding couple are 
receiving Khatags from family members.
Tibet Autonomous Region is an area where Tibetan people live in concentrated communities, constituting more than 95 percent of the population of the region. Tibetan people have many habits which are different from Han nationality. Today, let's talk about Tibetan wedding traditions .

Girls in Tibet are initiated ceremoniously into adulthood, selecting a 'lucky' date according to the Tibetan calendar. Her hair will be plaited from a single to many braids and she will begin wearing a colorful 'apron', indicating her availability for marriage and male friendships.
Tibetan wedding gifts from
 the groom’s side

Public gatherings are considered appropriate occasions for boys to meet girls. Romantic bonfires in the moonlight draw boys and girls together to sing and to worship. After a period of courtship and permission to marry has been granted by each family, an elderly gentleman is asked to propose the marriage to the bride-to-be's parents. According to tradition, only the maternal uncle of the girl has the right to approve. Suitable gifts are presented to the bride's family once approval has been given.

The day before the wedding, the engaged are not allowed to see each other at all. During the day, monks pray for their marriage to dispel any bad luck. On the wedding day, a show man repeats Tibetan rhymed congratulatory words for the new couple. Then, it is the time for guests to show their best wishes to both the bride and groom by offering Khatags , or scarves. Then, the performances begin. During the show, the couple's parents and relatives toast with the guests. The evening ends with a toast made by the new couple.
Toasting for happiness and harmony

After the wedding, all the relatives, friends, old classmates and colleagues gather at the new couple's home and celebrate until that late night. In Tibet, a new couple is not allowed to leave their home for three whole days—a test for both of them as to the strength of the marriage. If they persist, then Tibetans believe that their marriage will last forever.
Relatives and friends are 
singing on the wedding ceremony.

Tibetan wedding ceremony is followed by a joyful wedding feast, which is liberally interrupted by many presentations of ceremonial scarves, blessings, and gifts — so many that sometimes the groom and bride are nearly buried beneath the large number of scarves tied around their necks!

And now more and more Han couples choose take wedding photos in Tibet , they think that a new kind of holy feeling. They also hope their marriage could blessed by god. If you are lucky enough, you can join a local wedding and celebrating with them.

By Master Catherine Jigme

*culled from

Monlam Prayer Festival in Amdo Tibet

The Molam Prayer Festival holds in many Tibetan monasteries across Tibetan Plateau, but the Rebkong or Tongren county in Qinghai Province and Labrang or Xiahe in Gansu Proince in the Amdo region of Tibet are the two most most famous Molam Festival among all.

The Monlam Chenmo, also known as The Great Prayer Festival, is the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the year. It falls on the 4th – 11th day of the 1st Tibetan Lunar month. Monlam means "wish-path" – the Buddhist path of helping others through the prayers. The Monlam Chenmo commemorates the Buddha's enlightenment or fully awakening from ignorance. All the prayers are being sent to sentient beings in six realms (human realm, animal realm, hungry ghosts realms, hell real, demi-god realm, and god realm).

According to the Buddhist belief, time of Shakyamuni Buddha is considered as the time of Dharma (Buddha's teachings) flourishment or the time of spiritual prosperity. However, it has already passed its peak, therefore, is gradually declining. During Monlam festival monks, nuns as wells as lay people are sending prayers in order to postpone and slow down time of decay.

Monlam Chenmo was established in 1409 by lama Tsongkhapa, the great philosopher and founder of Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The first festival was held in Jokhang in Lhasa, where thousands of monks gathered together for chanting prayers and performing religious rituals, such as Buddhist dances (cham), torma offering, giant thangka unveiling, etc. Due to all these rituals have been preserved, they are being performed every first lunar month nowadays.

Friday 29 September 2017

Traditional Thai Wedding

There are many different aspects to a traditional Thai wedding, but not all of these traditions are maintained today. 

Consequently, there can be many variations in the basic ceremony which can be as elaborate or as simple as the wedding couple (and their families) want to make it. Traditions vary in different parts of Thailand so for instance a Thai wedding in the south of Thailand (for example, Phuket) can be very different to a wedding in the north of Thailand (such as Chiang Mai). For marriages in some rural areas and Thai villages 'upcountry', there is more chance that many of the old customs, such as 'preparing the bridal bed' (see below), will be incorporated in the wedding ceremony. The Thai wedding ceremony is essentially non-religious despite the fact that monks may be present. No vows are made but there is a large amount of symbolism to ensure good luck for the newly-weds.

Choosing the Date

To ensure a happy and prosperous marriage, the couple should marry at an auspicious time and date. This isn't taken lightly and astrologers may be consulted to see if the stars are compatible.

Wedding Invitations

Some parts of the wedding day, such as the blessing by monks in the morning, will only be attended by relatives and close friends of the bride and groom. Wedding invitations list the times that each of the most important ceremonies start. The timing of the Buddhist ceremony is set to ensure good luck and will commence at an auspicious time such as 09.09 ( 9 is a lucky number in Thailand ).

Thai people aren't generally renowned for their punctuality, but they will pay particular attention to wedding times to ensure good luck for the couple being married. When it comes to the evening feast or wedding reception, invitations are more casual and a verbal invite can suffice.

Engagement Ceremony

Not surprisingly, the engagement ceremony must take place before the wedding although for practicality and to save money, some couples may hold it on the same day as the wedding (see khan maak procession below).

Paying Homage to the Bride's Ancestors

This is a Buddhist ceremony that usually takes place the night before the wedding. It's quite a simple ceremony and the couple wear everyday clothes, but the principle is that the couple are honouring the bride's ancestors.

Making Merit

Making merit is important to Buddhists and it is particularly important on special occasions such as weddings. Inviting monks to the ceremony ensures merit because donations will be made to the monks. Another way that couples can make merit is by granting an animal its freedom. This is typically done by releasing a bird from a cage, or releasing a fish or turtle back into the water.

For Thai Buddhists, it is widely believed that donating a merit gift ( to the local wat (temple) will ensure a lifetime of love for the marriage. If the groom makes a generous donation to the local wat in the name of the bride's parents, it shows great respect for both the bride and her family.

Buddhist Blessing and Merit Making
You don't have to be Buddhist to partake in the ceremony and, in fact, many Western couples also elect to have a Buddhist wedding ceremony when they marry in Thailand. It is important to note that although monks may be present during part of the wedding day, a Thai wedding is essentially a non-religious affair and will usually take place in a private home belonging to a relation of either the bride or groom as opposed to a wat or temple. If monks are invited to attend the ceremony it will be to bless the couple and enable them to make merit. Performing a Buddhist ceremony does not in itself grant legal status on the marriage. For that to happen, the marriage needs to be registered at the Amphur Office.

The wedding day morning will normally begin early (approximately 6-7a.m.) with monks arriving to visit the couple who are to be married. The monks will chant and say prayers whilst a lit candle is placed in a bowl of water. This lustral water is then used later to bless the couple. A bowl of white paste may also be blessed which will be used later to anoint the foreheads of the bride and groom.

The wedding couple and their relatives offer food to the monks before leaving the room to allow the monks to eat. Nobody else is permitted to eat until the monks have finished their meal. After their meal, the monks will begin their chants again and the senior monk will bless the couple, and everybody present, with holy water. The monks then return to the temple. In some instances, the couple may go to the temple rather than have the monks visit them, but donations and food will still be offered to the monks. If monks are present (there can be 3, 5, 7 or 9 monks), trays are usually placed in front of them to receive the envelopes containing the donations. Depending on how the wedding day has been arranged, the khan maak and doors ceremony often follows next.

Khan Maak Procession

Traditionally in Thai culture, the family of the groom discuss with the family of the bride how much dowry ('sinsod') should be paid. Once this is agreed, the engagement can take place which involves an offering of gold and gifts for the bride and her family. The groom and his family form a procession to take the 'khan maak man' ('items for engagement') on special trays to the family of the bride. In olden times it used to be that the procession would leave from the groom's house and walk to to the bride's house, but modern life has changed things slightly.

Nowadays, the khan maak procession often takes place on the same day as the wedding itself and starts just around the corner from where the bride is staying. The procession is a lot of fun and is accompanied by musicians playing traditional long drums as the entourage dances its way to the bride's house. When the groom's family reach the bride's home the way may be blocked by symbolic doors or gates.

Doors Ceremony/Gate Ceremony

This ceremony is what the Thais call 'sanuk' with plenty of laughter and frivolity most of which comes at the expense of the groom as he is teased and gently ribbed by the bride's family. The bride remains inside the house when the khan maak procession arrives. To make sure that the groom is worthy and financially able to take care of his bride, he must be able to open the symbolic doors or gates. The number of doors or gates can vary from region to region, but typically there is a gold and silver gate represented by a gold or silver belt or ribbon which is held by two female members of the bride's family. The silver gate is known in Thai as 'pratoo ngoen' and the gold gate as 'pratoo tong'. To open the gate the groom must be able to provide a 'key'. 

This key comes in the form of an envelope with money inside. The groom may be given a hard time as the gate guardians joke and tell him the money isn't enough to gain access. As he reaches each gate the amount asked for will be more and there is lots of cheering as each gate is successfully opened. Depending on circumstances it can either be the groom or his father that hands over the money envelopes to the gate guardians.

Once the gates have been successfully negotiated, the groom's family will present gifts to the bride's family which traditionally include banana and sugar plants. In years gone by, the plants would be nurtured at the bride's house and when the couple had their first child the plants would be there to provide nutrition for the baby. As well as the plants, the khan maak procession will bring food which will be laid out for the ancestors who have passed away. This demonstrates that the dead ancestors have not been forgotten and that they are part of the joyous occasion. Gifts will also be handed to the bride and her family (usually gold chains or necklaces) and the dowry ('sinsod') will be presented for inspection.

Sai Monkhon

The next part of the wedding ceremony is usually conducted by a senior elder who may be a member of the bride's family or a respected member of the community. During the wedding ceremony, the couple wear traditional Thai clothing and kneel in front of the senior elder, with the groom on the right. The couple 'wai' as specially prepared white thread, 'sai monkhon', is looped and used to link together the bride's and the groom's heads. It is symbolic that the thread forms two circles which whilst linked, also remain independent. This indicates that the couple's destinies are linked, but individual identity is retained. The circle is also symbolic because of its continuity and the fact that merit can be carried around in the circle.The senior elder then pours sacred water over the hands of the couple. Bowls of flowers are placed underneath the hands to catch the water. The guests then bless the couple by also pouring water over the hands of the couple in the 'rod nam sang' ceremony.

Shell Ceremony – 'Rod Nam Sang'

The bride and groom wear garlands round their neck and kneel and wai whilst the elder says a few words and anoints them on the forehead. A conch shell (known in Thai as 'sang') is filled with holy water and is used by each guest to gently pour over the hands of the newly-weds ('rod nam' means to soak with water). Each guest places a gift, usually an envelope of money, in a basket. The amount given is supposed to depend on social status. In return the guest may receive a small memento of the wedding day before the group photos are then taken.

White Thread Ceremony – 'Phiti Bai Sri Su Kwan'

The newly-weds sit next to each other whilst an old and wise man says auspicious things and blesses the wedding. White threads are linked to the wrists and soaked with holy water. The thread is then torn on the side until it breaks and whoever has the longest piece is supposed to be the one whose love is deepest.

Sai Sin

Lots of relatives, friends and well-wishers will tie pieces of white string, 'sai sin', around the wrist of each couple to wish them good luck. These string bracelets are meant to be kept on for at least 3 days to benefit from the good luck bestowed.

Evening Party

The wedding reception or party often starts around the bride and bridegroom greeting guests as they arrive. There may be a book to sign wishing the couple good luck and the guests will present a gift (normally money in an envelope) to the newly-weds and may have their photo taken with the couple. Around will sit down to eat and approximately 45 minutes or an hour later, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) will stand. The MC can be a good friend of either the bride or the groom or he could be somebody hired especially for the event. The MC calls the newly-weds to the floor and the parents of the groom will present the couple with a wedding flower. At Thai weddings there is often a guest of honour and they will be called next to make a short speech to wish the couple well. The guest of honour can be a relative of the bride or groom or they may be somebody who is well respected in the local community. The speech will be short and sweet followed by a toast to the newly-weds. The MC takes over again and may tell a few jokes or humorous stories before interviewing the bride and groom. The bride and groom cut the wedding cake and show respect by serving their parents, senior relatives and the guest of honour.

The couple will then mingle with guests for photos. At this point, friends of the groom are often keen to raise a toast to him which he should reciprocate. Fortunately, it is acceptable for the groom to sip his drink when being toasted and he doesn't have to down it in one go! The party will have much drinking and dancing and as Thais like to have 'sanuk' the event is usually a great social occasion. The party may finish officially around 11p.m but it isn't unusual for party-goers to continue the celebrations at a nearby karaoke bar. 
The bride and groom will probably be exhausted at this stage after such a long day and such an early start, but they may have one more surprise awaiting for them before they can go to sleep.

Preparing the Bridal Bed

This old-fashioned ritual does still take place in some places, particularly rural areas. Don't be alarmed if you are led to the honeymoon suite to find an old couple sitting on your bed waiting to greet you! The idea is that an old couple are evidence of a long and successful marriage. Their knowledge and good luck is then imparted to the newly-weds in a number of different ways. They may say how lucky the bed feels hinting that the newly married couple will have children. Bags of rice and coins may be placed on the bed along with a number of other items all acting as symbols of prosperity and fertility. Tradition states that the newly-weds share their bed with these objects for the next 3 nights. You may be relieved to hear that the old couple don't also stay in the bed for 3 nights!


Traditionally, what might be called a dowry is paid by the groom to the bride's family. If your fiancée is Thai, this is an issue you may have to come to terms with and it is often a bone of contention for non-Thai men.

*culled from

Saturday 23 September 2017


If you're planning a trip to Thailand next year, one thing you might want to take into consideration when you choose your holiday dates, are Thailand's public holidays. Thailand has at least 16 public holidays a year, where everyone gets a day off, which is more than almost any other country in the world. Thailand's public holidays are amazing, with fairs, festivals, concerts and more. Most months have at least one public holiday, some have more. Check out all of Thailand's public holidays and you can choose the best time to come to suite your particular interests.


New Year's Day , Thai's do actually celebrate the Western New Year, even though the Thai New Year isn't until April. Most people go home to visit family, which means if you're outside Bangkok, the roads can be pretty packed. In Bangkok, it's like heaven, as all the traffic jams disappear and the normally polluted air is clean from the lack of cars. Thai's who stay in Bangkok tend to go shopping, as all the shopping malls and stores are open in the Winter months too, beer gardens sprout up at shopping malls all over Bangkok, so you can spend New Year's Day having a nice meal and then head out to an open-air beer garden for great beer and live music.


Makha Bucha Day , An important day in the Buddhist calendar, Makha Bucha Day celebrates certain Buddhist teachings. On Makha Bucha Day, many of the schools in Thailand will march to their local temple carrying offerings for the monks. They will walk around the temple three times and then go inside to hear the monks speak about the Lord Buddha and his lessons. If you're staying anywhere near a Thai school, it's interesting to watch all the kids marching to the temple, some in traditional Thai costumes. In some areas, you'll get 7 or 8 schools going to the same temple so, watching the kids walking there is like watching a mini parade.


Chakri Memorial Day, Chakri Memorial Day celebrates the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty (the royal dynasty of the present King of Thailand). It's normally just a public holiday where some Thai's will go to the temple but most will hang out with family and friends to go shopping or to eat. You'll also see a lot of enormous photos of the present King and Queen being put up all over Bangkok.


Songkran is the big holiday in Thailand as it's Thai New Year. It's a three day holiday (Monday thru Wednesday) although many people will take the week off. People travel with their families and then the water festival starts. All over Thailand, for three days, if you venture outside, you'll get wet, as kids and adults both splash, squirt or throw water at you. You may get a bit of a squirt of a water gun, or a hose, or an entire bucket of water poured over your head and nobody is safe. If you don't like getting wet, stay inside until after 6 p.m., when it will stop until the day after. But, Thailand is so hot at this time of year that getting wet is really fun and and enjoyable from the hot, humid surroundings. Chiang Mai is the best place to celebrate Songkran, but anywhere is a blast!


Coronation Day , Coronation Day celebrates the coronation of His Royal Highness King Bhumipol Adulyadej, the present King of Thailand. Again, most Thai's spend the day shopping or eating out with family. The slopping malls are packed on this day so, if you have urgent shopping, save it for another time if you can. Again, it's also a time for even more enormous photos of the King to be displayed. Some of these photos can be the size of a 12 story building. You'll even see the King's picture decorating the outside of massive sky scrapers, so his face can be seen for miles!

Royal Ploughing Day

This is an interesting holiday as it blesses Thailand's farmers. There is a fascinating ceremony at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, which involves several oxen, some government officials and different grains. Depending on which grains the oxen eat first, this tells whether it will be a good harvest season or not in the coming year. The ceremony is also shown on Thai T.V., so if you don't want to go down to the actual field (it gets quite crowded), you can still see it. If you do go to the field, it's a wonderful place to take photos.


May is chocked full of holidays as Vesak is also a public holiday. Vesak celebrates Buddha's birthday, life and death, and on this day most Thia's will go to temple to give make merit (donate to the temple and to the monks). Making merit means you will get a place in heaven, so public holidays like Vesak are important in Thailand. Some temples will also have temple fairs with lots of traditional Thai food, games, dancing and even Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) matches.


Asanha Bucha Day , Another important day on the Buddhist calendar, this public holiday commemorates the Buddha's first teaching after he attained enlightenment. Again, another day where Thai's go to give merit at the temple, and another day where you might find the local temple putting on a fair.

Khao Phansa Day

This day marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Buddhist Lent, unlike Western Lent, is not a time where Buddhist deprive themselves of anything though, it's simply a time where Thai Buddhists monks retreat to their temples for 3 months and meditate and pray. Ordinary Thai's will spend some time at temple, but many will also spend the day shopping or with friends.


Queen's Birthday , August is when the Queen of Thailand's birthday is celebrated. It is also Mother's Day in Thailand (Mother's and Father's Day are the days of the King and Queen's birthdays, as they are seen as the "Mother and Father of Thailand"). On this day, every Thai who can, will spend the day with their families and usually take their mothers out for lunch or dinner. Not a day to go to a nice restaurant if you don't have your mom with you, as every restaurant in town is packed full of Thai families. But, if your mom happens to be on holiday with you, then she'll be made to feel like a queen at any restaurant in Thailand. Flowers are also incredibly cheap in Thailand. You can actually purchase a bouquet of red roses for your mom for less than $3.00.


Chulalongkorn Day , This day commemorates the death of King Chulalongkorn or Rama V, one of Thailand's most beloved kings. King Chulalongkorn was involved in many projects that helped Thailand and the Thai people, and is spoken of having helped to bring Thailand into the modern day world. He also abolished slavery in Thailand, so he is one of Thailand's national heroes. On Chulalongkorn Day, again, it's a great time for families and friends to shop and eat, although many Thai's will also buy large floral wreaths and lay them at the base of Rama V's statue at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok.


December is one of the best months for public holidays, as there are three important days in this

King's Birthday

One of the most important holidays of the year is the birthday of the King of Thailand. It falls on December 5th every year and is also the day that all Thai's celebrate Father's Day. The King of Thailand is revered almost like a living god, so Thai's from all over the country go to temple to pray for the King. There is also an enormous celebration for the king at Sanam Luang (near the Grand Palace). A few hundred thousand Thai's attend the celebrations. Here, you'll find food stalls, musicians from all over Thailand playing on a gigantic stage. Then, when it goes dark, everyone in attendance will light a unbelievably beautiful sight, against the backdrop of Wat Phra Kaow and the Grand Palace, the most beautiful buildings in Thailand. In other provinces in Thailand, you will also find parades and fireworks as every Thai loves to celebrate the King. For fathers, it is also Father's Day and many Thai's will take their dads out for a meal, to play a round of golf, or go to a movie.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day falls on the 10th of December and celebrates Thailand's first real constitution. It's basically just a chance for a holiday from work after an exhausting year. Thai's will either sleep, shop, eat or go and see a movie.

New Year's Eve

Even though it's a Western holiday, Thai's still really get into New Year's Eve. There are several large concerts and shows all over Bangkok, all the night clubs throw big parties, and many of the restaurants will have special New Year's Eve dinners. The shopping malls are crowded and everyone is in a wonderful mood. Most Thai people are on holiday from December 31st to January 4th or 5th, so they're in a relaxed mood in preparation for their break. Central World Plaza in Bangkok is the most popular place to see in the New Year.

All of these public holidays in Thailand have one thing in common, Thai's love to have fun. Even at temple, or celebrating the King's birthday. Thai's are a fun-loving people and make the best out of every moment. Public holidays are days to have a great time, so if you're lucky enough to be in Thailand for one of them, join in with the festivities and enjoy yourself.

Cuisine of Tajikistan

Traditional Tajik cuisine
Traditional Tajik cuisine has much in common with Persian, Afghan, and Uzbek cuisines.
Plov (Tajik: palav, Uzbek: palov), also called throughout central Asia as osh, is the national dish in Tajikistan, as in other countries in the region. Green tea is the national drink. Traditional Tajik meals start with a spread of dried fruit, nuts, halva , and other sweets arrayed on the table in small dishes, and then progress to soup and meat, before finishing with plov. As with most countries in the region, meals are served on a dastarkhan, a low table where food is served at the feet of diners.

Palav or osh, generically known as plov, is a rice dish made with shredded yellow turnip or carrot and pieces of meat, all fried together in vegetable oil or mutton fat (traditionally a sheep's tail) in a special kazan (a wok-shaped cauldron with a narrow bottom) over an open flame. The meat is cubed, the carrots are chopped finely into long strips, and the rice is colored yellow or orange by the frying carrots and the oil together, after which the meat is added, and finally a carefully measured amount of rice and water. Usually, whole bulbs of garlic are added and served atop the plate of plov. Other common ingredients include onions, chickpeas, raisins, quinces, apricots, and other fruits. The dish is eaten communally from a single large plate placed at the center of the table; traditionally, plov is eaten with bare hands, and this practice is still often used in rural areas.

Another traditional dish that is still eaten with hands from a communal plate is qurutob, whose name describes the preparation method: qurut (sometimes called Kurt, dried balls of salty cheese) is dissolved in water (Tajik: ob) and the liquid is poured over strips of а thin flaky flatbread ( patyr or fatir, or more accurately fatir ravghani, i.e., fatir made with butter or lard for flakiness). Before serving, the dish is topped with onions fried in oil until golden and other fried vegetables. No meat is added.

Tea accompanies every meal and is frequently offered between meals as a gesture of hospitality to guests and visitors. It is served hot in a china pot with a lid and is drunk with or without sugar or honey, from small saucer-like cups without handles (piala). Because of the universal popularity of tea-drinking, the chaikhana or teahouse is the most common gathering place in Tajikistan, replacing the Western-style coffee house.

Meals are usually served with non, a flatbread found throughout Central Asia (also universally called lepyoshka in Russian). If a Tajik has food but not non, he will say he is out of food. If non is dropped on the ground, people will put it up on a high ledge for beggars or birds. Legend holds that one is not supposed to put non upside down because this will bring bad luck. The same holds true if anything is put on top of the non, unless it is another piece of non.

Many Tajik foods are eaten in other countries of the region as well. One of these is the good old shashlik (shish-ka-bob without vegetables, barbeque) which can be found on any street corner in central Asia. Shashlik is simply chunks of meat (any type) put on a long skewer and roasted over a charcoal or wood fire; the marinade, however, is crucial to the taste and varies widely. Traditional Tajik soups include mainly meat and vegetable soups (such as shurbo and piti) and meat soups with noodles (such as lagmon and ugro). Other dishes shared regionally, either as fast food or as an appetizer, include manti (steamed meat dumplings), samsa (a triangular pasty with a meat and onion stuffing, baked in a tandir oven), and belyash, deep-fried cakes made of yeast dough and filled with minced meat, similar to piroshki). Dairy dishes, usually served as part of the spread of appetizers in a Tajik meal and scooped with pieces of flatbread, include chaka (a sour milk preparation), thick yoghurt, and kaymak (high-fat clotted cream). Qurut balls may be served as a snack or an accompaniment to cold beverages. 

Although not a traditional Tajik drink, kefir, a drinking yogurt, is often served with breakfast.
In the summer, Tajikistan is abundant in fruit: its grapes and melons were famous throughout the former Soviet Union. The bazaars are overflowing with fresh, natural pomegranates, apricots, plums, peaches, apples, pears, figs, persimmons, quinces, berries and many others.

Friday 22 September 2017

Tajikistan Wedding Culture

As is known , wedding is one of the major events in the life of every man. Today we would like to tell you about the traditions and customs of the Kyrgyz wedding . Unlike the other Central Asian people , the Tajik wedding ceremony is held very original and unique way . But first things first .

Let's start with the most important ceremony - matchmaking. Here as a rule speak about the kalym and engagement day as well as bride and groom 's parents get acquainted . 

Engagement has the next meanings : kabuldaron ( agreement to posses ), oshkhurakon (pilaf treat ) and oklik (purity , whiteness ) . This day groom 's relatives bring trays with delicious meal to bride's house . The first tray full of wedding bread is brought for happy family life , the second one with ingredients for wedding pilaf , the third one with sweets, so that the life of the newly- weds to be sweet. There are also necessary presents for bride : white fabric , white shoes and kerchief .

By tradition, the Tajik wedding is celebrated in the bride's home. After the end of the celebration , the newly- weds must live in the bride ' house for three days , and only then they can move to the groom 's house . Well , let's get acquainted with the main ceremony – wedding . This day the groom dressed in traditional costume , come to the bride's house with relatives and friends. 

There are knife, wooden spoon and pod of red pepper . The knife is the symbol of courage , the spoon " helps " to give a birth a girl as the future housewife , and pepper is the amulet against evil eye.

When the bride goes to the guests, her friends hold embroidered gold carpet above her head that symbolizes happiness of new home. Then she goes to " chimlik " – (curtain made in order to hide the couple during wedding ceremonies ), where groom waits for her. 

After the priest bless the newly- weds and give them to taste honey for further happy life . The main wedding ceremony is " nikoh " , during of which mullah read verses from the Koran , and then he gives the couple to drink holy water . This ritual is held in order to confirm the husband 's agreement to protect his wife and she in her turn must honor and respect her husband . 

After the finishing all the ceremonies , the newly- weds go to registry office , and then there is a real feast with merry programs, dances and delicious treat . People of mountainous area celebrate the wedding ceremony accompanied sport competitions and games .

Tajikistan Holidays and Festivals

Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim nation, so many of the national Tajikistan holidays and regional festivals are related to events in the religious lunar calendar. Most Tajiks take part in the celebrations at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Celebrations usually feature music and food, with communities coming together to rejoice. Regional festivals, such as the colorful spring Tulip Festival (Sayri Guli Lola), are a good way for visitors to get a better insight into the traditions and culture of this fascinating land.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day (January 1) is a public holiday in Tajikistan, and one of the biggest holidays of the year. It is celebrated in a similar manner to western Christmas, with decorated trees, gift giving, and family visits. Many towns will also host fireworks displays.


Navrus is the celebration of the Persian New Year, which takes place over three days between March 20 and 22 each year on the spring equinox. The event is a national public holiday and a very important festival. Celebrations are a community affair, with whole towns preparing special dishes, eaten only on this occasion, and taking part in street parties, concerts, and parades, as well as visiting with friends and family.

Sayri Guli Lola

Sayru Guli Lola is a regional festival held in the north of Tajikistan in honor of the native tulips that flower during spring. This colorful two-day festival is hosted by different towns and features traditional choirs, music, and dancing. The first day sees locals tying tulips around trees, where people gather to sing, dance, and make wishes. Naqshi Kalon is a traditional song particular to this festival, and evening torchlight parades represent the victory of light over dark. The next day is for self cleansing in rivers and remembering the dead, with special prayer services held at cemeteries.

Victory Day

Victory Day is a national public holiday that takes place on May 9 each year. The festival, which has been observed in Tajikistan since 1946, commemorates the Soviet Union WWII defeat of Germany, and is usually characterized by fireworks and a military Parade. Each town has its own celebrations that often include greeting veterans and acknowledging their wartime achievements. The capital, Dushanbe, has the largest organized event, centered on Victory Park.

Eid al-Fitr

The Muslim event of Eid al-Fitr, also locally referred to as Idi Kurbon or Qurban Eid, takes place according to the Islamic lunar calendar, usually during September, to celebrate the end of the Ramadan holy month of fasting. Festivities usually center on communal prayer, feasting, and family visits. Fasting is forbidden for Muslims on this day. Children are given sweets in the early morning, and the average household receives visits from more than seventy people in a day. It is also a time for gratitude and giving to charity.

Independence Day

Tajikistan celebrates its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union on September 9 each year. Each town celebrates in its own fashion, usually with a festival that includes street parades, concerts, and fireworks. Independence Day is a nationally observed public holiday.

Eid ul-Adha

This Muslim celebration occurs 70 days after Ramadan on 10th day of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, the event commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in submission to God's will. The four-day celebration features special prayer services and a family feast of fattened sheep (in reference to the lamb that was sacrificed in the place of Abraham's son, also at God's command).

*culled from

Equatorial Guinea - History and Culture

Equatorial Guinea has a long history as a Portuguese colony. It is notable for the Bantu tribes, the Fang, and the Pygmies, and is now one of the world's oil sources. The country has had its share of political strife and although the past was turbulent, its culture and heritage is well preserved.


In the late 15th century, the Portuguese colonized the area that makes up what is known today as Equatorial Guinea. The Bantu migrated there in the 17th and 19th centuries. The Portuguese eventually handed the territory to the Spanish in 1788, and until 1959, the country was ran as the protectorate of Spanish Guinea. The colony was granted full independence in 1968.

Equatorial Guinea's first decade of freedom was dark because of the incompetent and brutal rule of the president, Macias Nguema. In 1979, Lieutenant Colonel Teodoro Obiang, his nephew, overthrew President Nguema through a military coup. Conditions initially improved after international aid was administered and the country became a part of the Franc Zone of the CFA.

Obiang continued to oppose the creation of a fair political system in the 1980's while continuing to establish his position through repression. This led other countries—Spain, in particular— to stop sending support. In 1991, a democratic constitution was finally created. Equatorial Guinea's first multi-party legislative elections were conducted in 1993.

Unfortunately, boycotts at the poll influenced and intimidated voters, but Obiang's PDGE (Partido Democratico Guinea Ecuatorial) earned most of the positions. Placido Mico Abojo was the most recent leader of the opposition, who was imprisoned in 2002 for allegedly planning a coup against the president.

Oil deposits were discovered in the mid-1990's in the Gulf of Guinea, earning Equatorial Guinea international recognition. The discovery also contributed to the country's economic boost. The development came with a few downsides, though, including a dispute with Nigeria regarding ownership of the island of Biokno, home to many of the latest oil rigs in Equatorial Guinean territory.
Despite progress and growth in recent years, the country is still perceived to be under an abusive and corrupt government. Forced rule is not a new concept in Equatorial Guinea; in fact, it has been around since the time of the original inhabitants, the Pygmies. 
Nowadays, the small group of Pygmies left mainly reside in the north and the Fang tribe remains dominant in Equatorial Guinea.


The mainland's culture is heavily influenced by ancient rituals and songs, while Bioko Island is ruled by colonial Spanish traditions. Music and dance is at the core of Equatorial Guinea, and they are treated by the natives as religiously significant. Traditional musical instruments include xylophones, big drums, the small thumb bamboo-made piano called, sanza , the harp, and the wooden trumpet. The literary culture is mainly about legends and myths passed down by word of mouth.

Equatorial Guinea has no official religion, but its people are mostly Roman Catholic, while a small percentage of the population practicing animism. Many ancient customs have been preserved by the Bubi. One of the nation's most famous celebrations is the abira , which is performed to drive evil away by cleansing the community. 
Traditional dances like balélé can be seen throughout the year and on special occasions like Christmas.

*culled from

Wednesday 20 September 2017

The Layers of a Taiwanese Wedding

The Bride and Groom in Taiwan 
Weddings are a pretty serious matter in Taiwan… Actually, it seems weddings are much more complicated here than in the USA, especially if the families involved are more traditional. Going through the courtship, family approval process, bride's engagement ceremony, groom's engagement ceremony, wedding photography, groom's wedding reception, and bride's wedding reception makes the process seem more layered than the largest of wedding cakes. Living in Southern Taiwan, families are still fairly traditional, so I have already had a few opportunities to witness the ceremonious complexities of Taiwanese weddings.

From what I have been told, many engagements never make it to an engagement ceremony, as traditional families have great influence on whether or not wedding plans are approved. Politics between families, or even family members can sabotage even the best intentions between a man and woman in love.

In November 2009, I was invited to the engagement reception of a cousin of my wife, Shu-min, in Sigang, Taiwan. The bride invited close relatives to the intimate affair, which included about 80 people. The groom's immediate family, which already had their own engagement ceremony, traveled 3 hours from Hsinchu, Taiwan to attend the event. It was an elaborate feast set up on the courtyard of the family homestead under a white and red tent. The local catering company, which was quite efficient and adept at setting up and breaking down such events, was a well-honed machine, with chefs cooking furiously under an adjacent tent, and a small army of attendants serving food and drink.

When I arrived, most of the guests were already seated, enjoying their first rounds of fruit juices. No one had yet opened the bottles of wine and beer at their tables. The father of the bride, who was paying for the event, seemed a little stressed. I was told such catered events in this area of Taiwan can cost about US $30 per person. The bride and groom spent much of their time greeting their guests and thanking them for the "red envelopes," which contained gifts of money for good luck and prosperity. These gifts typically US $60 – US $100 per person.

The meal was an incredible delight to the senses. It was a 9-course meal, consisting of local delicacies, heavy on the seafood. I knew I was in for a treat when the first appetizers that appeared on my table included fried honeybees. They weren't too bad. I satiated myself with crab, lobster, scallops, huge, salted prawns, shark fin soup, and abalone. One of the last courses before dessert included braised rooster testicles. I wasn't going to try that dish, until I was told it was "fake," and made of tofu stuffed in intestine casings. I was told real rooster testicles used to be traditional, but it was just too expensive and impractical these days. I am sure the roosters are happy about that. 

Before the dessert was even served, I was surprised to see an entire table of the groom's family quickly depart to their cars. I was told that traditionally, the groom's party left early, and only the bride's relatives were served dessert. The desserts included flan and different fruit. By the end of the meal, I had given about a dozen toasts of Taiwan beer, and was feeling pretty full and sleepy.
The bride and groom at the party

On January 10, 2010, I was invited to attend and take photos at the Wedding Party of the groom at a seafood restaurant in Hsinchu, Taiwan. You can view some of these photos by selecting the link above. When it comes to Taiwanese weddings, this is the main event. The bride and groom officially married by filing the paperwork with the court, and the biggest celebration was at this reception.

I arrived with my brother-in-law, Jen-wen, at 8 am at the rendezvous point in Sigang. All of the bride's relatives were waiting for us, while the large tour bus idled on the road. I was taken by surprise, as I didn't realize I was going to Hsinchu on a chartered tour bus, with everyone else from the bride's party. The bride's father paid about US $300 to charter the bus and driver for the day. It was a very comfortable 3-hour ride to the technology-oriented city of Hsinchu. I caught a quick nap and enjoyed the changing scenery outside. Most of the passengers enjoyed catching up with one another, and singing karaoke on the bus.

We arrived at the seafood restaurant in Hsinchu just in time for lunch. The wedding party included about 30 tables of 10 people each. The meal was almost as good as the one at the engagement party in Sigang, but I was told the seafood wasn't as fresh in Hsinchu as it was in Southern Taiwan, where most of it came from. We had the standard seafood fare, like crab, lobster, salted, steamed prawns. There was plenty of beer and wine, as well as cognac and brandy. There was a stage set up for karaoke singing.

The family of the groom ate quickly, so they could make their rounds and share toasts with their guests. The event lasted about 3 hours. At the end, the bride and groom waited at the exit, handing out candy and cigarettes, as is customary. Some guests posed with them for photos.
The Bride and a little guest

The bride's party embarked on the bus back to Sigang with full bellies and cheerful spirits. It was evident by the fact that the karaoke and conversation during the ride home was much livelier. The bride and groom left together, perhaps embarking on their honeymoon, and to begin the rest of their lives together. But like many Taiwanese newlyweds, they will first live apart in separate cities because of their careers. 

Taiwan Holidays and Festivals

The Taiwan holidays and festivals listed below are some of the more famous of many celebrations. While events take place throughout the year, a larger number take place between January and March, with the lunar calendar and Buddhist and Taoist religious events being behind many of the festivals.

Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

Chinese New Year is a 15 day holiday celebrating the passing of the old year and welcoming in the new. It relates to the Chinese Lunar Calendar and begins in February with New Years day and culminates with the Taiwan Lantern Festival, a spectacle involving plenty of lanterns, fireworks and food. This period is characterized by lion dances and fireworks and it is customary to pay off debts, clean houses, give gifts of money in red envelopes, and have family feasts.

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month. Keelung sees one of the more spectacular events with a Ghost festival that includes a ceremonial procession on the 13th day, water lanterns being released into the sea on the 14th day, and Taoist priests performing the ceremonial dance of the Ghost God on the 15th day.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

*culled from

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Buddhist Weddings

Buddhist Weddings are influenced by the Hindu culture which gives prominence to 'Nekath', the auspicious times. The 'Nekatha' is derived from the horoscopes of the Bride and the Groom which is created based on their dates and times of birth. Of the many traditional events that take place during a Buddhist wedding, the 'Poruwa' ceremony is the most important. 

Therefore it is strictly guided by Nekath. 'Poruwa' is a beautifully decorated wooden platform on which the traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony takes place. Therefore this event is called the 'Poruwa Siritha' (Ceremony).

Poruwa Décor

> Punkalas
> Clay oil lamps
> Jasmines
> Grains of rice
> Pori (roasted paddy)


> Kendya
> Betel
> Golden Thread
> Wicks for lamps
> Gifts for the parents


> Kandyan Dancers – optional
> Ashtaka Narrator
> Troup to sing – Jayamangala Gatha
> A close relative to tie the knot

The Poruwa Siritha

The Poruwa Siritha (Poruwa Ceremony) appears to have existed in Sri Lanka before the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd Century B.C. Through the ages, many innovations have been introduced to the Poruwa Siritha. By and large, the men and women of present day society realize the value of their heritage and are motivated to protect and preserve something of their past for posterity.

The Poruwa Siritha was as valid custom as a registered marriage until the British introduced the registration of marriages by Law in 1870. Today's
Poruwa Ceremony has been influenced by both upcountry and low country customs of Sri Lanka.

The bridegroom and party assemble on the left of the Poruwa
and the bridal party on the right.
The bride and groom enter
the Poruwa leading with the right foot. They greet each other
with palms held together in the traditional manner.Shilpadhipathi (master of ceremonies) presents a hand of betel leaves to the couple, which they accept and hand back to him to be placed on a height of the Poruwa.This symbolises the offering of betel to gods. 

The bride's father places the
right hand of the bride on that of the groom as a symbolic
gesture of handing over the bride to the bridegroom.The groom's brother hands a tray to the groom with seven
sheaves of betel leaves with a coin placed in each. The groom
holds the tray while the bride takes one sheaf at a time and The groom's brother hands a chain to the groom who in turn places it on the bride's neck.

The bride's maternal uncle enters the Poruwa, ties the small fingers of the bride and groom with a gold thread and then pours water over the fingers. Water and earth being the eternal verities, the water so poured and the earth on which it falls are intended to be the lasting witnesses to the marriage. The uncle then turns the couple clockwise, three times, on the Poruwa.

Next the groom presents to his bride a white cloth which in turn is presented to the bride's mother. This is an expression of the groom's gratitude to his mother-in-law for bringing up his bride.

Next, the groom's mother will present the going away saree to the groom. The groom hands it over to the bride and she in turn gives it to her mother.

The bride's mother will then present a plate of milk rice and kavum, cooked with special ingredients befitting a marriage ceremony, to the bride who feeds a piece of each to the bridegroom. The bridegroom feeds the bride in return.

As the newly weds step down from the Poruwa, helped by a couple from the bridegroom's party, Shilpathipathi breaks a coconut in two.

The bridal couple lights a brass oil lamp to signify their resolve to keep the home fires burning.

*culled from

Sri Lanka Festivals and Celebrations

Sri Lanka is home to four main religions and celebrates 25 public holidays throughout the year making it have one of the busiest calendars in the world! The majority of festivals in Sri Lanka are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim celebrations and public holidays.

The religious Sri Lankan festivals follow the lunar calendar and as such vary somewhat in date from year to year. With the exception of the Muslim festivals, the celebrations which follow the lunar calendar are kept in sync with the solar calendar by an extra month being added to the calendar every few years.

With such a large Buddhist population, poya days (days of the full moon) are very significant in Sri Lanka as this is the day Buddha urged his followers to embark on spiritual practices and modern day Buddhists usually spend most of the day making offerings at the local temple and performing religious rites.

The significant Buddhist festivals are typically celebrated with large parades through the streets with impressively adorned elephants, colourful dancers and drummers – the most famous being the Esala Perahera in Kandy. These processions are really something to behold and if you do have the chance, do visit one during your Sri Lankan tour. While there is a ban on alcohol sales on poya days you should find most tourist places will serve it.

Sri Lankan festivals by month


Duruthu Poya - marks the 1st of Lord Buddha's 3 visits to Sri Lanka.
Thai Pongol - a Hindu festival that honours Surya (the sun god), Indra (bringer of rains) and the cow. It is celebrated in temples by cooking first from the new harvest in milk, in a special pot.


February 4th is Independence Day - celebrated nationwide with parades and pageants highlighting the nation's culture and achievements.

Navam Poya - celebrates Lord Buddha's announcement ,at the age of 80, of his own impending death. This is celebrated by Navam Perahera in Colombo is a colourful two-day festival centred on the Gangaramaya temple, with processions of dancers, drummers and some 50 elephants parading through the streets.


Medin Poya - marks Lord Buddha's 1st visit to his father's palace after his enlightenment.


Bak Poya - celebrates Lord Buddha's 2nd visit to Sri Lanka.

New Year - April 13 & 14 - With Easter and the school holidays, many people take up to 2 weeks holiday and head off for the cooler hill country. Nuwara Eliya is converted into a hive of activity, with horse races, car races and flower shows. Sinhala and Tamil New Year are celebrated throughout the island and presents are exchanged. The traditional kiribath (rice cooked in coconut milk) is cooked and eaten, new clothes are worn and horoscopes are cast for the forthcoming year.


Vesak Poya - It is the most important of the Poyas commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. This also marks the 3rd of Lord Buddha's visits to Sri Lanka. The Festival is celebrated with island-wide pageants, the construction of pandals (platforms decorated with Buddhist scenes), the hanging out of lanterns and the distribution of free food (from rice and curry to Vesak sweetmeats) from roadside booths (dansals) to pilgrims. 

Vesak also marks the last day of the Adams Peak Pilgrimage season.


Poson Poya - commemorates the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Mahinda in the 3rd century BC and is celebrated with rituals across the island, particularly in Anuradhapura and Mihintale, where the new religion was first introduced to the Sinhalese.

July / August

Esala Perahera - It takes place in Kandy and is one of the world's most spectacular festivals. It celebrates Lord Buddha's 1st sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka and dates back to around 300AD. It is spread over 10 days and features huge processions of dancers, acrobats and drummers who follow hundreds of elephants adorned with ceremonial attire through the streets honouring Lord Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic, which is enshrined in the city's main temple.

Esala is the month of Festivals - major ones being held in Kataragama(below), Dondra and in Bellanwila one of the suburbs of Colombo.Kataragama Festival - it is held at the same time as the Esala Perahera. Devotees fire-walk and participate in various forms of self flagellation. Vel is Colombo's most important Hindu festival, featuring 2 vibrant processions during which the chariot of the god of Skanda is pulled from one end of the city to the other.

Nikini Poya - marks the retreat of the Bhikkhus following Lord Buddha's death and is a period of fasting and retreat for monks.


Binara Poya - commemorates Lord Buddha's journey to heaven.


Deepavali - is the Hindu Festival of Light (equivalent to the Indian Diwali), which celebrates the homecoming of Rama, the hero of the great Hindu epic the Ramayana. Lamps are lit in Tamil houses across the island, symbolising the victory of good over evil, and the wearing of new clothes.


IL Poya - commemorates Lord Buddha's ordination of 60 disciples.


Unduvap Poya - celebrates the arrival of the sapling Bo Tree in Anuradhapura. Christmas and New Year are celebrated across the island.

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