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There are a number of different sections of Buddhism, and the beliefs of each group vary slightly. In general, Buddhists believe in life as a process of change, moving towards greater wisdom, awareness and kindness. The mind is the decisive factor in the changing of the self, and meditation is used to develop the mind to a more positive state.
The main concern to Buddhists is that there is suffering in the world. There is no sense of a creator God in Buddhism. The Buddha (a title, rather than a name, which means one who is awake to reality) was a human being who transformed himself, through enormous effort, to a state of profound Enlightenment.
Buddhists follow Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha where there is suffering, caused by wanting. This suffering can end completely by using the Eightfold Path, which develops good understanding, thought speech, action, work, effort, mindfulness and meditation. Buddhism is an open religion that believes that all people are equal, and welcomes those of any age, gender, nationality or background. A couple can be married in the eyes of the law by having a Buddhist ceremony as long as the person who conducts their ceremony is registered to conduct weddings. If this is not the case, a civil ceremony will also have to be held.
The legal requirements to be fulfilled are those that apply to civil marriages. However, if the building in which the couple wish to marry is in a different registration district to where they live, the superintendent registrar needs proof that the building is the couples normal place of worship. If this is not possible, the couple are required to give notice in the registration district in which the building is situated after having met the necessary residency requirement.
If there is no building in the couples registration district, they will be permitted to marry in a building in the nearest registration district that has one.
A superintendent registrar may also need to attend the ceremony. If the building in which the couple intend to marry is not registered for the solemnisation of marriages, a civil ceremony must be arranged beforehand to comply with the requirements of the law. It is traditional in some communities on the morning of their wedding for the bride and groom to visit a monk who has taken a vow of poverty and give him food in return for his blessing.
As in Greek Orthodox culture, the bed has significance and an older couple may sometimes be called on to prepare the bridal bed and decorate it with lucky talismans such as bags of rice, sesame seeds, coins and, in more rural communities, a tomcat. These symbolise fertility and happiness. Buddhism holds great store in peace, and not causing harm to any other living thing. Therefore it is held by most Buddhist groups that if every form of reconciliation has failed, the couple should be allowed to peacefully separate rather than cause any more suffering. The couple are asked to take into consideration the position and future of any children, so as not to cause them unnecessary suffering.
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