Jill + Ashton: Su-Kwan Ceremony

The Baci ceremony, also knows as “Su-kwan” is an indigenous Southeast Asian ritual. Predominant in Thailand and Laos this ancient and traditional ceremony is held for various occassions.  “Su-kwan” can be interpreted to mean “calling of the soul”. It’s main purpose is the binding of one’s personal spirits to the person, and also serves as a  means of expressing goodwill and good luck to others. The Kwan are believed to be a persons 32 spirits that watch over their body and constiute a persons spiritual essence.

I had the privilege of being asked to photograph this special ceremony for Jill and Ashton as they celebrated their union in marriage. Here are a few moments in black and white from this ceremony:

The ceremony is traditionally lead by a monk with everyone gathered around a Pha Kwan. The Pha Kwan is a metal bowl piled with bananna leaves, candles, marigold, and string. Around the base are usually a variety of foods and drink- rice cakes, pastries, banannas, liquor, eggs and sticky rice. Eggs and rice are the most symbolic of these as they represent fertility and prosperity.

The belief is that tying strings to the celebrants is the binding of the spirit to the person. Everyone gets a chance to tie a string and give their blessings to the bride and groom, as well as each other, in order to express additional good luck to each other. The strings are traditionally left on for three days and after that, if one wants to remove them, they must not be cut, but somehow slipped off. Many people wear them until they are frayed and worn or they fall off on their own. This part of the ceremony, until the end, may be accompanied by music and dance.


One Response to “Jill + Ashton: Su-Kwan Ceremony”

  1. [...] day was a traditional Laotian Ceremony called a “Su-Kwan” was held, I blogged about it here. It was an intimate and spiritual gathering and it was nice to experience something [...]

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