An Chuang (安床) which is also known as matrimonial bed ceremony as it is traditional culture passed down from many generations and till present. This tradition is still followed by many in the Chinese culture. Nowadays, many of us are not aware of the meaning behind this tradition but most of the couple still practice it.
In the older generation, this practice consists of finding the most auspicious date and time and the ceremony can take place any time between three days to one week before the wedding day itself. However, current generation Chinese families do not follow the practice so strictly due to their busy lifestyle and slight detachment from traditions. During the ceremony itself, the couple’s bed will be decorated and set up with the different auspicious items. This is to symbolize a blissful marriage for the couple and also to produce many offspring after marriage.
What are the auspicious items placed on the bed?
First of all, the An Chuang will be shifted slightly out of position and it will be decorated with a new set of bed sets in either red or pink or lavender as these colours are considered auspicious. The set of bedsheets will also be embroidered with dragons and phoenix embroidery. It will only be shifted back on the wedding day. Cantonese beliefs that the bed should not face the door whereas the mirror should. Both should not face each other.
The items that will be placed on the bed would be items including from the betrothal gift ceremony. All these items are meant to placed on a big red tray. It will include 2 oranges, 2 angpows, 1 packet of candy, fate coins from dowry (to place at 4 corners of bed, room, cupboards), antique Chinese coin (insert two coins all items from the gift box which is dried longan, red date, lily bulbs, walnut peanut, lotus seeds, dried tangerine, pine tree leaf and dried melon slice and also a pair of double happiness bedside lamps that has to be lit up. Other items such as bedroom slippers, birthing tubs, face washbasin from the bride’s dowry will be needed too.
After everything is placed accordingly, generally, the groom, his parents or grandparents who helped out with the ritual will have to recite the different phrase to bless them with a blissful marriage and eternal life will be part of the ceremony.
These are the phrase will be recited:
百年好合 (Forever a Blissful Marriage) 早生贵子 (Bless with many offsprings early) 白头偕老 (Growing old together) 永浴爱河 (Eternal Love)
What happened after the ceremony ended?
After the ceremony ended, nobody is allowed to enter the room until the wedding day except the couple. If anyone else enters the room, it represents a third party in their marriage. On an actual day, a young boy whose horoscope does not clash with the couple will be invited to jump and roll on the bed. This symbolized with an abundance of children in their marriage. The more children at the ceremony, the more fertile the couple will be so you can more than one child jumping on the bed.
What are taboos that need to be aware of?
There are certain things we should avoid during and after the ceremony.
1. Dull colours should be avoided for the couple’s new bed linens such as black, grey and blue.
2. There should not be anyone sitting or touching on their new bed.
3. The bride should not lie on the bed before the wedding as it is believed to lead to poor health.
4. If the groom has to sleep on the bed before the wedding, it should be accompanied by a young boy who is born in the Dragon zodiac sign.
5. If the couple goes on honeymoon after the wedding, the parents of the couple can sleep in the room, or alternatively, the clothes can be placed on the bed to represent their presence.
Now after reading the article, you are all ready to prepare An Chuang ceremony without worrying so much.