A monastic wedding

By Dechen Yangzom

BHUTAN - Monks of the Dechenphodrang monastic school yesterday morning had to adjust their morning routine and attend to a ceremony that never happened at the school in the past.

An American couple had not only chosen Bhutan to tie the knot, but chose to do it in the Bhutanese way, entailing rituals and blessings of the protecting deities. Dressed smartly in gho and kira, the couple, Justin Koller, 37 and Shannon Kishel, 32 from Colorado, United States, silently acknowledged the thruesel ceremony administered to them and received the khadar (ceremonial scarf) that united them as husband and wife at around 8 am in a simple, but spiritual, ceremony.

The couple said they chose Bhutan for their wedding, because they wanted to have a spiritual retreat for their honeymoon. "The pujas and music performed were soothing and much appreciated. It was very powerful," said the groom, Justin Koller, who is an engineer.

Buddhism is not new to the couple. Justin Koller is a Zen Buddhist and Shannon Kishel, a Buddhist enthusiast. The bride Shannon said, "Besides deciding to have a Buddhist wedding and learning more about the Buddhist philosophy, we were also interested in Bhutan's development philosophy of Gross National Happiness."

The wedding was long planned. Both wearing versions of mentse mathra, the couple said they had consulted astrologers in Bhutan through their travel agent, Sakteng tours. "The astrologer chose what colour we should wear and said that their elements blended so perfectly," said Shannon, whose red mentse mathra took three weavers three months to weave.

The couple will leave for the United States after a week.

They will be having an additional wedding ceremony in August in the United States, which their family and friends will attend. Since the couple is writing the proceedings for their own ceremony, it will be a blend of Christian, Buddhist and Native American wedding practices.

-Kuensel Online/Asia News Network