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Church group urges return to simple weddings

Ditch the tailored outfits, priest urges

A marriage ceremony A marriage ceremony
  • ucanews.com reporter, Chilaw
  • Sri Lanka
  • October 17, 2011
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As weddings grow ever more lavish and expensive, a Catholic movement has called on couples to ditch the tailored outfits, designer jewellery and ostentatious trappings.

Kithudana Pubuduwa, a group that describes itself as “an apostolate of renewal” is asking for a return to simple church weddings that give priority to the spiritual aspect of marriage.

Last weekend in Bandarawatte, in the diocese of Chilaw, two couples did exactly that and took part in weddings under the auspices of the group.

At one of them, 28-year-old bridegroom Newton Fernando wore the national attire of a sarong and long sleeved shirt, all in white. His  bride, Rasika Manori, wore a matching white sari. The rings the couple exchanged were stainless steel; there was no gold on display.

The ceremony consisted of a simple exchange of vows, a blessing and a Mass. The guests, who also wore mainly white and were simply dressed, stretched their hands towards the couple and prayed for them. After the ceremony, the bride and groom hosted a tea party with a traditional menu.

“Today, thousands of boys and girls in our country are unable to marry because of lack of money,” Newton said afterwards.

“We opted for this kind of wedding to feel one with them and show them there is a way to have a good wedding without all that unnecessary spending.”

It has been a personal challenge,” Rasika added, “as it did not fall in line with the kind of wedding that society expects nowadays. Even some of our family members and relations were opposed to it originally.”

But Father Jude Dias, who celebrated the Mass, praised the couple’s courage. “Today’s weddings mean a lot of decorations and heavy spending,” he said. “Some couples go to the extent of selling their wedding rings later,  to settle the loans they took for the wedding. This is a pathetic situation.”

“But this couple has chosen to give emphasis to the sacramental value of marriage. I think this wedding is a small step towards bringing about a change in the society.”

Sajith Fernando, one of the guests, said he would be holding his wedding the same way.

“I’ve seen what happened to one of my close friends,’ he said. “He obtained a big loan from a bank at 20% interest for his wedding.”

“Today he is unable pay it back and he is divorced from his wife. His sister works in Italy and she is spending all she earns on repaying the loan. So her future is bleak too.”

Kithudana Pubuduwa instigated this kind of wedding in 1980 and now organizes seven or eight ceremonies each year.

“One of the main aims of a Pubuduwa wedding is to return the focus to its true meaning,” said Delryn Wanigaratne, spokesman for the group.

“Things like the wedding dress, the retinue, the rings, the church, the decorations, the car, the reception, the photo albums and videos; these  are all handled by professionals who persuade the couple that without them, their wedding is not a wedding.”

“It is said that without 500,000 to 700,000 rupees (US$ 4,550-6,300) a wedding ceremony cannot be organized today.”

“The Pubuduwa weddings  challenge those superficial practices and values. They also reduce the exorbitant cost and thus pave the way for even the poorest to celebrate their weddings with dignity.”

“And of course, they also restore the importance of the sacrament of marriage.”

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