What is a Poruwa Ceremony?

Lots of you were asking questions after my Instagram stories. And you wanted to know more about what a Poruwa ceremony is all about. If you’ve had a peak on my website and you’ve seen I offer a Poruwa Hire . You might be wondering what it is and what makes a Sri Lankan wedding so special. Are you planning one? Or are you just interested what Poruwa wedding ceremony is, or what makes is different to a western ceremony that you know. I’ve explained more behind the meaning and what happens during a Sinhalese Poruwa ceremony.

What is a Poruwa ceremony

The Poruwa Ceremony

The Poruwa ceremony has been a part of the Sinhalese Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka for over 2000 years. The poruwa is the elevated stage on which the couple stand during the ceremony. The Poruwa symbolises a lotus flower which denotes purity and serenity. It is the embodiment of all good traditional values in marriage. The four lamps at each corner are lit in order to illuminate the couple’s steps into the future. Each corner of the Poruwa has a pot filled with coconut flowers, and together with an oil lamp that will be lit at the start of the reception, invoke the blessings of the four Devas (Gods) who protect the four corners of the world. Medicinal herbs, spices, coins, the white cloth that is laid on the floor and the flowers, emanate energies that will bless the couple with continuous good health, wealth and prosperity.

Entrance & Ascending the Poruwa

The Sri Lankan wedding drums (Magul Bera) will ceremoniously announce the arrival of each couple and his party who will be walking down the aisle. The couple will ascend the Poruwa after the registration of their marriage, right foot first, ushered by their fathers, signifying parental consent to the marriage.


Union of the Bride & Groom

The couple will be united by the tying of the nuptial knot. The two little fingers of the right hands of the couple, will be tied with a golden thread, and then water will be poured over the fingers, amidst the chanting of spiritual scripts by the Ashtaka Master. At this point of the ceremony, the couple are considered bound to each other in spirit for life. Water so poured and the earth to which it falls are intended to be lasting witnesses to the marriage. The couple will descend from the poruwa after exchanging vows and rings.

Exchange of gifts & offering of thanks

Once the couple are united, they will exchange gifts. The gifts represent articles that are precious and important for living. They will then share kiribath (milk rice) to convey that they will care for and look after one another with love. As a symbol of thanks and appreciation for having raised and nurtured them, the couple will present gifts to their parents. Thanksgiving will also be given to the elders of both sides of the family by offering sheaths of betel leaves. Each sheath will have a coin placed on it and will be dropped onto the floor of the poruwa to invoke blessings of the goddess of Mother Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the Planets.

Lighting the Oil Lamp (Pahan)

The newlyweds descend the Poruwa, and then light a brass oil lamp, decorated with flowers, which signify hope and blessing for a bright future. It’s also signifies the sign of a new life together!



Photo Credit Sasha Gusov

For those of you who might not know I’m half Sri Lankan and it’s why for our wedding day we had a Poruwa ceremony. I love the meaning behind the Poruwa ceremony, and the symbolism of tying your fingers together so you are bound to each other. It didn’t feel like we were just saying words that didn’t have relevance or reflect us as a couple. Also we’re both not keen being the centre of attention, and we had all our family members involved. My Uncles held the ceremony, we gave thanks to our parents through presenting them with Betel leaves, it was just such a lovely touch. Everything in our ceremony had meaning and intention and that’s the most beautiful part for me.

I hope whichever style of ceremony you choose, it’s what YOU want. There may be some awkward conversations with family members if your family have always got married in a church and that’s what’s expected, but don’t let that hold you back. This is your day, and I hope you have it your way!

If you want to find our more at having a Poruwa ceremony or how to plan an alternative ceremony then get in touchI can’t wait to hear from you. 

Amelia x


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