Different ways to 'Thai' the Knot

Phuket's Baba Wedding Festival

June was a special month for weddings on Phuket, as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) joined with the Peranakan Association to organze the annual Baba Wedding Festival.

Peranakan is the name given to a proportion of Phuket’s population that descended from Chinese settlers in the 17th century and Baba Weddings have been a Peranakan tradition on the island for the last 200 years.

At the Festival, which took place on June 22, Lieutenant General Pachimsawat and his bride were the honourary couple of the day, while a another three couples also tied the knot in the special celebration.  The weddings took place on Phuket’s Thalang Road in the Old Town and attracted large crowds, who were intrigued to see the traditional ceremonies taking place.

The festival also encompassed a traditional tea ceremony and a procession through the colourfully decorated streets of Phuket Old Town. The finale of the event was a wedding feast at the famous Blue Elephant Thai restaurant.

"The purpose is to draw attention to this particular cultural aspect of Phuket and at the same time assist the locals in attracting more tourism interest," said Pranee Sakulpipatana, vice president of the Thai Peranakan Association and organizer of the event.

Traditions remains an extremely important element in all Thai wedding ceremonies, she added, and an increasing number of couples saying their nuptials in Thailand are choosing to incorporate elements from the traditional ceremony into the proceedings.

Thailand is fast becoming Asia’s top location for destination weddings and couples from around the world increasingly like to add a little Thai culture into their celebration. In a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony, the day typically begins early in the morning when the couples receive blessings from a group of monks. The couple is then joined together by sacred white threats which are draped delicately over each of their heads. Guests then line up and pour water from ornate conch shells on their heads as a good luck blessing.

Western couples rarely opt for a full Buddhist ceremony, however. Many choose to release floating 'kom loy' lanterns into the evening skies for good luck instead.