Tsurani weddings were a ceremony of union between two families. They occurred during the morning, for to complete it in the waning part of the day was believed to bring ill luck to the couple.
Guests were seated according to rank and those of highest rank would be shown to their cushions last, which made the arrangement a complex and lengthy affair that began well before dawn, modesty suggested four hours before.
Musicians and servants would entertain and refresh those seated first, while the priest of Chochocan sanctified the house.
During the bride's preparation, no man might look upon her until she began her procession to the wedding therefore all male slaves proceeded blindfolded. The bride would be carried with a litter adorned wound with flowers and koi vines for luck.
Usually the bride would pass an hour alone in contemplation in the contemplation garden as (custom demands) the groom shares a ritual sip of wine with his bachelor friends, to bring them fortune, and wives of their own.
Entering the ceremonyEdit
The bearers brought the groom and the bride from separate doors of the ceremonial hall. 2 maidens in the service of Chochocan pinned coloured veils to the bride's headdress and into her hands they pressed a wreath wound of ribbons, feathers and reed, to signify the interdependence of spirit and flesh, of earth and sky, and the sacred union of husband and wife. Then 4 maidens closed around her.
A gong rings as the bridegroom enters the hall from opposite doors without seeing each another, and musicians start playing. Then they proceed to a two-leveled dais. The High Priest of Chochocan stands to the top with three acolytes with a censer, and the bridegroom are left to the lower level. The maiden attendants seat themselves on cushions beside the stair. The groom sits on a litter adorned with paper decorations that symbolized arms and armour, on the priests' right hand and wears a massive plumed mask with the colors of his family, fashioned by some forebear of his.
The High Priest raises his arms, palms turned towards the sky, and recites.
- "In the beginning, there was nothing but power in the minds of the gods. In the beginning, they formed with their powers darkness and light, fire and air, land and sea, and lastly man and woman. In the beginning, the separate bodies of man and woman re-created the unity of the gods' thought from which they were created, and so were children begotten between them, to glorify the power of the gods. This day, as in the beginning, we are gathered to affirm the unity of the gods' will, through the earthly bodies of this young man and woman."
A gong chimes, and boy chanters sing a phrase describing the dark and the light of creation. Then the assembled guests rose to their feet.
The priest resumes his incantation, and then the gong rings once more.
The guests reseat themselves upon cushions, while the acolyte on the dais lit incense candles, as the High Priest recites the virtues of the First Wife: chastity, obedience, mannerliness, cleanliness, and fecundity. The bride bows and touches her forehead to the floor. As she straightens, a purple-robed acolyte (with dyed feet and hands) removes one of her veils, white for chastity, blue for obedience, rose for mannerliness, until only a thin veil with her family's color, symbolizing her honour remained.
Then he proceeds describing the virtues of the First Husband: honour, strength, wisdom, virility, and kindness while the acolytes drape necklaces of beads over the paper swords of the groom's litter, as he acknowledged each quality as it was named.
The gong chimes again and the priest leads his acolytes in a prayer of blessing. With the priest and acolytes between them the bridegroom step down from the dais and bow to the gathered guests. Then along with their fathers or advisers, the priest and his acolytes escort them to sacred grove.
Servants remove the sandals so that their feet might be in contact with the earth and their ancestors as the bride ceded her inherited rights of rulership to her groom. The priest chants another prayer, bows to his god, and leaving everyone else, follows the couple to the glade and the natami.
A chime rangs faintly, signalling the couple to meditate in silence. The bridegroom bows to the godhead painted on the ceremonial gate, and stops beneath at the edge of the pool. After a session of prayer and meditation, the chime rangs again. The priest steps forward and places his hands on their shoulders, blesses them, and sprinkles them lightly with water from the pool
Then the vows are spoken. The bride renounces her inherited birthright while the priest tears away the last veil symbolizing her family, and burns it in the brazier by the pool. He then wets his finger, touches the ash, and traces symbols upon the groom's palms and feet. The bride kneels and kisses her natami and with her head pressed to the earth that holds the bones of her ancestors, the grooms swears to dedicate his life, honour, and spirit to the bride's name. Then he kneels beside her who recites the names of the ancestors of each generation until the patriarch of her family.
- "Here rest the spirits of <immediate family and parents>: may they stand as witness to my words. Here lies the dust of my grandfathers, <grandfather names>, and my grandmothers, <grandmother names>: may they stand as witness to my deed"
She then plucks a flower from her wreath and days it before the natami, symbolizing the return of her flesh to clay.
The chime sounds, the priest intones another prayer, and the groom speaks the ritual phrases that bound him irrevocably to the Name and the honour of his new family. Then the bride hands him the ceremonial knife, with which he cuts his flesh until blood drops. The priest removes the groom's mask who then bows and kisses the natami. Then the Priest slips to his shoulders the marriage mask of the new family.
As they enter to the house again, servants wash their feet and replace their sandals. Then they return to the ceremonial hall.
The High Priest now wears a robe of silver. He invokes the ever-present eye of Chochocan, and crosses his arms over his chest as the gong chims. A boy and girl ascend the dais each carrying a reed cage with a male and a female kiri bird, their white-and-black-barred wing-tips dyed the color of the host's family.
The priest blesses them as acolytes accepted the cages. Lifting the ivory ceremonial wand he invokes Chochocan to bless the marriage and taps the cages with his wand. The reeds part, the gong chimes as servants slid wide the paper screens enclosing the hall.
- "Let this marriage be blessed in the sight of heaven"
The acolytes tip the cages, jostling the birds from their perches leaving the birds free to fly, together or separately, as omen of the couple's future. Then the priest says
- "Praise the goodness of Chochocan, and heed his lesson. Under his guidance, may this couple find mercy, understanding, and forgiveness"
and explains the omen as shown by the kiri.
The gong chimes and an attendant removes the groom's mask, then the couple exchange the wreaths. The bride puts the ceremonial circlet over his hair and then he leaned close to crown her in turn.
Then the priest pronounces them man and wife forever and then the guests cheer and throw luck charms of colored folded-paper over the couple.
Guests presented the wedding tribute, in the form of a work of art, recitation or musical composition, the lowest in rank performing first. Those of highest rank would present elaborate and expensive affairs patronized by the great Lords. By tradition the couple would not bed together until all tributes were watched.
At smaller weddings the couple might watch the first few performances (out of courtesy) but at the greatest houses the couple would prefer the truly spectacular events later in the roster (the first day's efforts were left for the amusement of their off-duty servants).
As the couple leaves the tribute hall, they move to a makeshift bright-painted ceremonial hut of reed paper and lath and oil-cloth ceiling. Paper fertility charms thrown by the crowd.
At the first night there is some screen dividing the quarters of husband and wife which is afterwards replaced by a wide sleeping mat covered with sheets of fine silk against the east wall.
The priest enters alone, carrying a tray upon with a decanter of golden tura wine, two goblets and a candle. He raises the tray skyward, intoning a blessing, and sets it on the table between husband and wife. He lits the candle saying
- "Let Chochocan's wisdom enlighten you."
and traces a symbol in chalk around the candle stand and lifts the wine in blessing; he fills the goblets and sets them opposite bride and groom
- "May the blessing of Chochocan fill your hearts."
He scribes more symbols around each goblet and the half-empty decanter
- "Drink, children of the gods, and know each other as your masters in heaven have ordained."
He then bows in benediction and leaves the marriage hut.
Tradition dictates that the wife must not be up before her husband on the next morning. As they left, the hut is burnt to honour the sacred passage.