Exploring Sri Lankan Wedding Traditions and Rituals

Weddings are a joyous occasion, but understanding the intricacies of another culture’s traditions can be challenging. For instance, Sri Lankan wedding ceremonies are known to be vibrantly colorful and richly steeped in ancient customs.

This blog will shed light on these unique rituals and traditions, helping you appreciate the depth and beauty of a Sri Lankan wedding ceremony. Ready for an immersive cultural journey? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Sri Lankan wedding ceremonies are known for their vibrantly colorful and richly steeped ancient customs.
  • Different ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, such as the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Moors, have their own unique wedding traditions and rituals.
  • The Poruwa Ceremony is a central tradition in Sri Lankan weddings, where the couple takes vows on a beautifully decorated platform called the poruwa while performing various customs like exchanging garlands and walking seven steps together.
  • Traditional bridal attire in Sri Lanka consists of a vibrant saree adorned with embroidery, beads, and sequins, while grooms wear long-sleeved shirts paired with sarongs or dhoti pants.

Ethnic Groups and Wedding Customs in Sri Lanka

There are several ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, including the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Moors, each with their own unique wedding customs and traditions.


Sinhalese people make up the largest group in Sri Lanka. They celebrate big weddings with many customs and rituals. The tying of fingers is a key part of their wedding day, it tells everyone that the couple is now bound in marriage.

Their main tradition is the Poruwa ceremony. Here, the bride and groom stand on a decorated platform doing various rituals such as exchanging garlands, lighting oil lamps, and walking seven steps together.

These steps show they are ready to start their journey as one family unit, hand-in-hand.

For Sinhalese brides henna night comes before the wedding day. Her hands and feet get covered with beautiful henna designs during this time. And gifts for sure! It’s common for Sinhalese brides’ families to give gifts or money to groom’s family – this custom is known as dowry.

Weddings are always lively occasions filled with traditional music and dance performances at reception parties where guests savour tasty local dishes.

A striking aspect about Sinhaleses weddings are colorful decorations everywhere you look! Fabrics showing many colors hang from ceilings while traditional designs adorn walls alongside flowers too.

Sri Lankan Tamils

Sri Lankan Tamils have their own unique wedding customs and rituals that add to the cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. One important tradition is the tying of the thali, which is a pendant representing marital status.

The groom presents it to the bride during the ceremony, symbolizing their union. Another significant custom is the exchange of garlands between the couple as a gesture of acceptance and respect.

Sri Lankan Tamil weddings also feature traditional music and dance performances, creating a lively atmosphere for all attendees to enjoy.

Sri Lankan Moors

The Sri Lankan Moors are one of the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka who have their own unique wedding customs. In Moors weddings, there is a strong emphasis on Islamic traditions and rituals.

The bride and groom exchange vows in front of an Imam, or religious leader, and recite verses from the Quran. During the wedding ceremony, it is customary for the couple to sign a marriage contract known as a “Nikah.” The bride typically wears a colorful saree or gown, while the groom dresses in traditional Islamic attire.

After the ceremony, guests gather for a festive reception with delicious food and lively music.

The Poruwa Ceremony: A Central Tradition in Sri Lankan Weddings

The Poruwa Ceremony holds a central place in Sri Lankan weddings and is considered to be one of the most important rituals.

Significance of the Poruwa Ceremony

The Poruwa Ceremony is a very important part of Sri Lankan weddings. It has deep cultural and religious significance. During this ceremony, the couple stands on a beautifully decorated platform called the poruwa and takes their vows in front of their families and friends.

The ritual involves various customs, such as exchanging garlands to symbolize their love and commitment to each other, lighting oil lamps to bring blessings upon their marriage, and walking seven steps together to represent the journey they will embark on as husband and wife.

The Poruwa Ceremony is a meaningful and sacred moment that signifies the union of two souls coming together in marriage.

Rituals and Customs during the Poruwa Ceremony

The Poruwa ceremony is a special part of Sri Lankan weddings. Here are some rituals and customs that take place during this ceremony:

  • The bride and groom stand on a beautifully decorated platform called the poruwa.
  • They exchange floral garlands as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other.
  • The couple’s fingers are tied together with a white string, representing their unity in marriage.
  • Oil lamps are lit to signify the blessings of the gods and to ward off evil spirits.
  • The couple takes seven steps around the poruwa, representing their journey through life together.
  • During these steps, important elders pour water over the couple’s hands, signifying blessings for a prosperous life.
  • The groom presents the bride with a piece of jewelry or a gift as a symbol of his love and devotion.

Traditional Wedding Attire in Sri Lanka

The bride’s wedding dress in Sri Lanka is typically a vibrant and intricately designed saree, adorned with traditional jewelry and accessories.

Bride’s Wedding Dress

The bride’s wedding dress in Sri Lanka is a stunning and intricate garment that reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage. Traditional bridal attire usually consists of a saree, which is a long piece of fabric draped elegantly around the body.

The colors can vary, but red and gold are commonly used to symbolize good luck and prosperity. The saree is typically adorned with beautiful embroidery, beads, and sequins, making it a true work of art.

To complete the look, brides often wear elaborate jewelry pieces such as necklaces, earrings, bangles, and headpieces. The bride’s wedding dress in Sri Lanka is truly a sight to behold, showcasing the beauty and grandeur of this special occasion.

Groom’s Wedding Attire

The groom’s wedding attire in Sri Lanka is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Traditional groom’s outfits often consist of a long-sleeved shirt, paired with a sarong or dhoti pants.

The shirt is usually made from silk or cotton and can be intricately embroidered. To complete the look, grooms wear a jacket called a “kurakkan jacket” over their shirt. This jacket is typically adorned with traditional motifs and embroidery.

Grooms also wear accessories such as necklaces, rings, and bracelets made from gold or silver. Overall, the groom’s wedding attire showcases the beauty and elegance of Sri Lankan traditional clothing traditions while adding a touch of sophistication to the special occasion.

Other Wedding Traditions and Rituals in Sri Lanka

In addition to the Poruwa Ceremony, Sri Lankan weddings also include other unique traditions and rituals. One such tradition is the Bride’s Homecoming Ceremony, where the bride is welcomed into the groom’s family with festive celebrations and blessings.

Traditional wedding music and dance performances are also an integral part of Sri Lankan weddings, adding a vibrant atmosphere to the festivities.

Bride’s Homecoming Ceremony

The Bride’s Homecoming Ceremony is an important tradition in Sri Lankan weddings. It marks the bride’s return to her family home after getting married. This ceremony often takes place a few days after the wedding and is a joyous occasion filled with celebration and reunion.

The bride is welcomed back by her family, who shower her with blessings, gifts, and affection. It is a time for relatives and friends to come together, share delicious food, dance to traditional music, and rejoice in the happiness of the newlywed couple.

The Bride’s Homecoming Ceremony adds an extra layer of cultural richness to Sri Lankan weddings, creating unforgettable memories for all involved.

Traditional Wedding Music and Dance

Sri Lankan weddings are known for their lively and vibrant music and dance performances. During the wedding celebrations, traditional musicians play instruments like drums, flutes, and conch shells to create a festive atmosphere.

The rhythmic beats of the drums add an energetic vibe to the festivities.

One popular form of traditional dance in Sri Lankan weddings is called “Kandyan dancing.” This style involves dancers performing intricate moves while wearing elaborate costumes adorned with bright colors and embellishments.

Kandyan dancers often use props like decorative swords or fans as they gracefully move to the music.

Another renowned dance in Sri Lankan weddings is the “Bharatanatyam” dance, which originated from South India. Bharatanatyam dancers showcase their skills through elegant movements and expressive gestures that tell stories inspired by mythology.


In conclusion, exploring Sri Lankan wedding traditions and rituals reveals a vibrant tapestry of customs. From the intricate Poruwa ceremony to the adorned henna night, each ritual showcases the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Whether it’s exchanging garlands or indulging in delicious cuisine, Sri Lankan weddings are truly a celebration of love and tradition.


1. What are some traditional rituals in Sri Lankan weddings?

Traditional rituals in Sri Lankan weddings include the Poruwa ceremony, where the couple stands on a decorated platform, and the tying of the Nalapatha, a symbolic thread to signify their union.

2. What is the significance of the oil lamp lighting ceremony in Sri Lankan weddings?

The oil lamp lighting ceremony symbolizes bringing light and prosperity into the couple’s lives. It represents blessings from elders and invokes divine presence during the wedding festivities.

3. Are there any specific traditions related to clothing in Sri Lankan weddings?

Yes, traditional attire plays an important role in Sri Lankan weddings. The bride typically wears a Kandyan saree or Osariya, while grooms wear a traditional Kandyan suit or Western-style suits depending on personal preference.

4. How long does a typical Sri Lankan wedding celebration last?

Sri Lankan wedding celebrations can vary in duration but usually span across several days with various ceremonies and feasts involved. The actual wedding ceremony may last around 1-2 hours followed by festivities that can extend for additional days based on cultural customs and preferences.

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