A Travellerspoint blog

My temporary life in urban Nepal

A Nepali wedding

sunny 26 °C

Who doesn't love a wedding?!

It seems to be wedding season here in Nepal, and after exchanging fascinating tidbits about wedding customs with my local elder brother, I was delighted to be asked to my very first Nepali wedding; a Hindu wedding. I was invited from the Bride's side, which is an important distinction at these events. The Bride, Pratima, is a former student of my village school, and although we'd not previously met, I am acquainted with her father.

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Upon arrival at the garden-resort-style hotel venue in a quiet corner of Pokhara, I was told 700 guests had been invited, so I had to eat straight away as they had a lot of people to feed! Finishing off with the obligatory wedding cake, there was time to greet my two respected elders from school before the ceremony began.

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I could hear the Groom's party approaching the venue long before I saw them. He - Milan - was in a decorated car, but the musicians, relatives and guests were all on foot. Many of the women were carrying offerings. As Milan walked along the receiving line at the front entrance, I wondered if perhaps he felt like a bit of a rock star. That's what it looked like!

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Once everyone was in the garden, the part of the ceremony that seemed most familiar to me, began. The Groom was cleansed, the Bride came out to join him, and both were given tika (one of a few times throughout the day). There was an exchange of rings and grass garlands, then some applause from the nearby guests - they were married!

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While the newlyweds went off to eat their first meal together as husband and wife, the guests mingled and posed.

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The next part of the ceremony involved symbolic washing of hands and feet, and giving tika. Many, many family members participated in this - in strict hierarchical order.

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This took a long time, so while that was happening in one part of the garden, in another the musicians and dancers began to perform. I don't know if this is strictly true, but I was told that because the Groom's side pays for the music, only his guests dance. Suited me just fine to watch.

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Towards the end of the washing queue, I was invited to give the couple tika and present my wedding gift. Only the Bride's guests are expected to bring gifts, but it's pretty simple - just an envelope of cash! The tika was the pasty, wet type, which took seconds to apply and hours to remove from my fingers. Next, the Groom presented his Bride with a gift of luggage, which I suspect contained new clothes, and maybe even some make-up and jewellery.

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Some time later, the couple moved over to the wedding pyre for what I think was the more religious part of the ceremony. Bound by a white, knotted cloth, they sat by the pyre while the priest chanted mantras over them and sprinkled holy water and flowers into the fire. Then they walked around the altar a number of times and the Bride sprinkled puffed rice onto the pyre.

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The last part that I saw before I had to leave was the Bride placing her toes on three stones, in turn, while rice was sprinkled onto her feet.

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It was a long day, but a beautiful and fascinating ceremony - one that I feel privileged to have been part of.

Posted by Andrea R 01:56 Archived in Nepal Tagged wedding nepal pokhara hindu celebration

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