台灣大百科全書

Worshipping in the Ancestral Hall
拜堂 中文版本

Classification:Folk Arts > Life-Cycle Rituals and Folklore > Wedding
Contributor: Li Wenxian Bio
The most important rite in modern Taiwanese marriage ceremony. As this ceremony is held all over places, it has become the synonym of wedding, and is also known as “Worshipping Heaven and Earth (拜天地).”

As ancient people considered marriage as an extremely important matter, a solemn ceremony was to be held as the witness. Men and women only had meaningful relationships from the point when they were married, so the gods of heaven and deities on earth had to be worshipped; when a woman got married, she became a member of her husband’s family, so the ancestors had to worshipped; it was only after the wedding that the bride and groom became one, so they had to bow to each other to express their respect to the marriage.

The rite of Worshipping in the Ancestral Hall was not seen in the Six Etiquette from The Rites of Zhou (周禮) nor the rite of exchanging nuptial cups in later days; the rite nowadays follows the order as: first bow to Heaven and Earth, second to the ancestors, third to the parents, fourth to your spouse, then enter the bridal chamber. The worship to ancestors and bow to the parents are similar to the rites of meeting parents-in-law formally and miaojian (廟見, the bride worshipping in husband’s ancestral hall after getting married for 3 months) in ancient times. The relationship between the old and present rites is obvious.

Records related to worshipping in the ancestral hall are rarely seen in historic annals and field surveys in Taiwan. In old days, although there were indeed people carrying on worshipping in the ancestral hall, the practice was by no means common. If the rite of worshipping in the ancestral hall was held, the order goes as followed: first to Heaven and Earth, second the gods and ancestors; as for worshipping parents, parents-in-law, and exchanging bows between husband and wife – there was no established rule about the must of performing so.

Some families allow the newlywed to enter the bridal chamber straight away, and they would worship in the ancestral hall on the third day (nowadays the second day). The reason for this may due to the belief that “the bride rules” on the day of welcoming of the bride, the parents-in-law are therefore unwilling to receive the newlywed’s worship on the same day to avoid being under evil influences.

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Chinese Keyword
拜天地 , 婚禮 , 洞房

English Keyword
worshipping heaven and earth , marriage ceremony , bridal chamber

References

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