Sunday, June 10, 2007

Confucian Wedding, Part Two

Blogger's Note: These posts appear with the most recent ones first. To read them chronologically, scroll down to "Korea Report: We're Off" They really do make more sense that way.

Here is the rest of the post on the traditional wedding:

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the first part of the ceremony with Number One Son standing in front of the Best Man holding a duck. The parents of the bride and the parents of the groom were seated in chairs facing each other in the front, and I had my camera under my chair, but didn't dare be taking pictures while participating in the ceremony. When I finally realized that the photographers were running the show,and no one was going to be horribly offended if I joined in the fun, I pulled my camera out and started shooting.After some chanting by the two Confucian officiants, Number One Son was placed in a sedan chair, carried by four fierce looking warrior-types, and marched in a procession out of the main tent to a little tent in the back where the bride was waiting.After presenting her with the duck and some other mumbo jumbo which I couldn't see or hear, she was placed in an enclosed sedan chair and the procession came back to the main tent. There NOS and The Bride joined the two priests behind at a table laden with different kinds of food. NOS and TB each had two handlers who choreographed everything they did, placing them at the right spots, placing their hands, heads and bodies in the right positions and telling them what to do. NOS was at a disadvantage, because although he knows some Korean, he is hardly fluent in the language and did not understand what they were saying to him all of the time. There were no wedding rehearsals, so the whole affair was almost as new to the couple as it was to us crockheads, although I assume The Bride had attended a number of these events as an observer. There were two rather lengthy orations, which, of course, we couldn't understand, but which I am told by Humble Philosopher/Carpenter were probably Confucian exhortations on how to conduct themselves as a married couple and in society. There is no "ah-ha" moment when the couple is pronounced married as in Christian ceremonies, but the climax of the ceremony seemed to be when the couple did a series of highly formalized bows to each other and to the parents. The wife bowed twice to the husband and he returned the bow once, each getting way down, knees on the ground in their bows.
Then there were photo ops, with members of the bride's family, the groom's family and friends, posed in front of the temple that is pictured on the 1,000 note won, the national currency. (I didn't get a picture of the groom's family, since I was in it.) But that wasn't the end of the ceremony and photography. We then went inside a banquet hall and while the guests were eating, the bride and groom, and different family members at different times were placed in a small side room for various procedures. First the parents of the groom were placed on pillows in front of a low table filled with food goodies and served by the bride and groom with wine. Then the newly-marrieds arranged themselves (or, more precisely, were arranged by their handlers) on the other side of the table in front of us, holding a cloth stretched between them. The Wife and I were each given a handful of juju beans and we had to toss them at the cloth. The number of juju beans that they caught with the cloth were the number of children they would have. Unfortunately, the cloth was stretched too tightly, or our aim was poor, or fate decreed no children, but they caught no beans on the first try. We tried again, and they caught 10. I don't know what that augurs. Maybe the two tries will average out and they will have five. (Sorry, no pictures, I was participating.) Then members of my family took their turns on the pillows, were served with wine by the couple and then gave them words of wisdom. I have a picture only of HP/C, BS, Seester and The Sensible One, but Baby Milton and EIEIO pitched in too to give the newly weds the benefits of their insights. Then the bride and groom served each other wine. For the finale, the groom picked up the bride and carried her around the table. Then it was off to the banquet hall where there were thousands and thousands of dishes. Okay, maybe hundreds. I know there were many, many, for sure. These are only a sampling of some of them. Finally, the couple changed into street clothes to greet their guests and start their married life together. And so ends the traditional Korean wedding. But our adventures in Korea are far from over. Still to come: a visit to an ancient palace, shopping and an overnight stay at a Buddhist monastery.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

Wow! It's all just so marvelous!