A view of the main Wokha Town Baptist Church building. (Morung Photo)
Morung Express News
Wokha | September 11
In making an effort to set up a just equation to the frivolous Naga wedding, which otherwise is an opulent and expensive affair, the Wokha Town Baptist Church (WTBC) of the Lotha community leads the way forward.
Besides introducing mass marriage for couples which is already observed in many churches in the state, the WTBC has gone a step further by making it compulsory that all couples say their wedding vows only on the dates fixed by the church.
This means, a couple wishing to marry would have to comply with the rendezvous set by the church to say ‘I do.’ There are exemptions though- during “off marriage season,” which is monsoon time, a couple can possibly choose the date they prefer.
“The main intention of the church in making the mass wedding compulsory is to save expenditure and time,” Associate Pastor, WTBC Abemo Jungio said. The church has set aside four days every month for wedding. The ceremony is successively held in the main church as well as the sector churches.
The contention of the church on saving time, as Jungio explained, “Come October every year, there is a marriage or two almost every day. This eats up precious time of the church in focusing on other church programmes and missions. Besides, all the church ministers become engaged in wedding ceremonies, which make it inconvenient for them to devote on other church activities.”
Since the introduction of the compulsory mass marriage, the church has been saving time by almost 70%,” Senior Pastor WTBC, Rev Sulumo Ezung claimed. Ezung pointed out that every year, there are at least 100 couples getting married from Wokha town, which has been taking a toll on investing time in other church activities.
The church also made it a point that wedding shouldn’t necessarily be held only during the winter and spring season which is regarded as the wedding season. Therefore it encourages weddings be held throughout the year.
Another aspect that the church focused on when it introduced the compulsory mass marriage to the congregation was to save the expenses of the couple getting married, its family and those partaking in the ceremony.
For one, it put a stop to the practice of sharing meat (pork naturally) to relatives and friends before the marriage ceremony takes place, which is an added expenditure.
“Marriage has turned into a business and a competition. A couple, even if they cannot afford, are compelled to share meat before the wedding to friends and relatives, which have to be followed by a large feast on the wedding day.
Likewise, those people receiving the meat would also be compelled to give money/gifts to the couple. This becomes a big burden for all concerned. Therefore, the church resolved to discourage such practice,” Ezung stated.
Initially, when the church introduced the idea of mass marriage to the congregation, it made a point to serve a simple meal to those attending the ceremony. This policy was later changed to serving only tea/coffee with snacks. It then tried the practice of marriage couples serving separate feasts inside the church premises, which apparently, came with a lot of complication and the idea was shelved.
Coming to the present, the church conducts the mass marriages on the set dates. But for the wedding feast, the onus is left to the couples and its families to decide.
While there have been suggestion that a combined marriage feast can well be held inside the church premises so long as the marrying couples can equally share the expenditure incurred, Senior Pastor Ezung said this would be amounting to dictating terms to someone’s democracy.
“We will encourage that a wedding ceremony be as simple as possible and lay emphasis on the sanctity of marriage and the union of two people, but the church cannot infringe on the democracy of others. Therefore, we believe that it is up to the couples to decide on their wedding feast, how much they want to spend and where it will be held,” he stated.
While shifting the nature of extravagant spending on a wedding feast, however rich or poor, may take time, the WTBC is certainly making sure that it saves valuable time and utilize it judiciously on other important church activities and programmes.