Taoism Beliefs on Marriage Rituals

Taoism is a Chinese religion and a philosophy that was created by a man named Laozi in the late 4th century BC. In modern Chinese culture, a typical marriage occurs in the civil registry.

Taoism Beliefs on marriage are based on the “Spiritual union of the Tao”. In the marriage ritual, the couple sits in a Pakua, facing each other, with the family surrounding them. The marriage ceremony begins when the couple lights the 8 candles surrounding the Pakua.

The marriage rituals will vary depending upon the priest, who coordinates the Taoist marriage rituals based on their likes, dislikes and faith, the ceremony environment and the number of people attending the ceremony.

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Taoism Beliefs on Marriage and Wedding

The Taoism Beliefs on marriage rituals is based on the spiritual union of Tao, which is eternal, formless and invisible. It does not act or talk, it is a formless and inexhaustible source of all life.

Above all, the one important message from Tao is the Oneness and Spiritual union of the human form and the universe. The human form has 4 limbs while the universe has 4 seasons namely summer, winter, autumn and spring.

Taoism Beliefs on Marriage
Taoism Beliefs on Marriage

The universe has 5 elements namely fire, water, wood, earth and metal, the 9 cardinal points and 366 days. Humans have 5 vital organs namely the liver, spleen, kidney, lungs and heart, and the 366 joints and branches.

We humans have the power to give and take, along with the emotions like greed, worry, fear, happiness and anger. While the universe has wind, rain, cold and heat.

The Taoism beliefs on marriage are that those who possess this spiritual union possess the Tao. They can neither be burned with fire nor be drowned by water. The forces of Tao will lead the couple towards eternity to stroll into the great wilds of infinity. 

Taoism Wedding Ceremony – Spiritual Union

Although a Taoist wedding might seem similar to any other wedding ceremony the rituals are quite different in terms of the meanings associated with them.

In North-American wedding ceremonies, the marriage ritual happens in spiritual places like a church with their bridesmaids and groomsmen presided over by a head priest or pastor.

Taoism Wedding Ceremony – Spiritual Union
Taoism beliefs on marriage and Wedding Ceremony – Spiritual Union

In a Taoist wedding ceremony, the couple sits in a Pakua facing one another, with the family members surrounding them for their good wishes and greetings.

While sitting in the Pakua, the man guards and urn with a lit candle, representing the natural element “Fire”. The women on the other handguards an urn filled with water. The marriage ritual begins with both the couples lighting the 8 candles surrounding the Pakua.

The master priest of the ceremony does his part by reading all the ancient vows and prayers to give blessings of the ancestors and Gods to the couple getting married.

To end the ceremony, the man places his urn of fire in the centre of the Pakua followed by the women putting hers with water on top of it. The fire and water create steam and the opposite elements form a union representing the union of the couple.

This all is concluded by the final family dance followed by the wedding feast, in the end.

Taoist Witness Attestation Traditional Ritual

One of the most popular rituals based on Taoism beliefs on marriage is the Taoist witness attestation tradition which is based on 3 core requirements;

  1. The couple witness each other while taking the vows and performing the mutual obligations. This includes treating each other with respect and bringing up the children.
  2. The second witness could be anyone from family, friends or relatives that observed and vouched for the marital relationship of the couple.
  3. The third witness will be the spirits of heaven to bless the couples for the coming days.
Taoist Witness Attestation Traditional Ritual
Taoist Witness Attestation Traditional Ritual

In case you have relatives and have a clan, then there will be a clan ancestral hall with all the names on plaques. These plaques are a representation of the spirits.

When you see Taoists ‘wailing’ or making invocations at the ‘ancestral wall’, it reminds you of Jews praying at their Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

‘Filial piety and ‘Ancestral Worship’ are the foundation stones of Chinese society, and thus the ‘family as the basic building block, and not any ‘individual’.

A Taoist ‘wedding’ if you see it in Mother Nature sense, is about starting a ‘family’. If you do not want to start a family, in a Taoist sense, there is no need to get ‘married’.


The Taoism beliefs on marriage and its rituals have some similarities with the western style of marriage but there are many other symbolic and ritualistic differences that separate the two from one another.

The modern version of the Taoist wedding involves the presence of the 3 people as pre-requisites i.e. 2 human groups on earth and 1 spirit group in heaven.

Taoism beliefs on marriage

People Also Ask (FAQs)

1. What is the Taoism view on marriage and divorce?

Taoism do not view social events like marriage and divorce as social matters. They take them under civil matters which are to be determined by the court of law.

2. Can Zhengyi Taoist monks marry?

Within Zhengyi Taoism, the monk is almost always married. Marriage is required to become a priest of the highest rank. Priests or monks may be male or female. They don’t tend to live in monasteries.

3. What is the golden rule of Taoism?

Taoism’s golden rule means not doing bad to others. But, it is a completely passive rule that speaks more to not being jealous or overly competitive than how you should treat your neighbour.