The Nepali Wedding

by Annalise on December 6, 2009

Timsina Wedding

We were invited this past week to a Nepali wedding. The nephew of our host had returned from his Australian home to marry his Nepali bride. Many of the young people still have their family arrange their marriages in the traditional Nepali way. This involves having the family, advised by an elder match-maker, choose their partner to be. This was the case for the wedding that we attended this week.

For day one, we were attending a very unfamiliar ceremony in a new setting, I was wearing a sari borrowed from our host’s wife, and we were bringing the piper. The sari assembly and piping at the wedding are blog topics all there own!

The ceremony began at 9:00 a.m. at the groom’s home where the extended family gathered for the days’ preparations. I was sitting beside a cousin who had lived for 8 years in New York City so he not only anticipated some of my questions but interpreted in English as the day proceeded. As people filed in, each paused for a deep bow to the groom’s elderly grandparents as a show of respect. In turn the grandparents received them with a gentle pat on their heads. There was of course the fussing over the suits and ties, much visiting and likely gossip. At about 10:30 a.m., the family’s Hindu holy man appeared from the kitchen with a platter of the ‘tikah’ materials and one by one, placed a circle of this bright red paste on everyone’s foreheads as a blessing prior to the wedding ceremony. My New York neighbour explained that it is made of rice, banana ( the sticking ingredient) and colour powder. Having been so blessed, we were each very careful not to do anything dramatic with our faces lest the stuff fall off! It actually dried quite quickly and except for a few exaggerated expressions, held firm for most of the day.

At last it was time to go to the bride’s home and so with the piper in the lead, we all walked in parade procession several blocks to the arranged buses; many of the family women carrying gifts prepared for the bride’s family. Once at the main road, we all jammed onto the two buses and headed to the other end of Kathmandu. When we popped off the buses and all gathered and waited. Once word was received from the bride’s home that the groom would indeed be accepted (ceremonial formality) the procession continued from the main road to the bride’s home. There we were greeted with a large seating area, an alter for the bride and groom for the ceremony and a full meal in preparation.

The bride wore a beautifully red sari and much ceremonial jewelry but had a downcast expression. This is actually expected. If the bride looks too happy it suggests that she is happy to leave her family. Traditionally, once the bride left to join her groom’s family, she became their property and was entirely under their control. This certainly could be cause for apprehension, given the bride may not even have met her husband’s family prior. These days, that is rarely the case as the bride and groom have the opportunity to meet, if even briefly and be sure they are comfortable with this match.

The wedding blessings were quickly performed by the holy men of both families and then the eating began.

The meal: well, I don’t even know what we all ate but there was lots of if, all fantastic and all we could do afterward was sit and rest in digestion. I became a bit concerned about the security of my sari but happily it held! We returned home late in the afternoon and the wedding resumed the next day.

Day two, the dinner and dance were held at the “Latit Party Venue” This part of the wedding felt almost familiar. At one point I found myself imagining some of the guests with blond or brown hair, the saris became dresses and skirts and I was hearing English (or Dutch) instead of Nepali,. We might be at home! There was a line up to the cash bar, there were wonderful hot appetizers being served, groups of men and women sitting and standing in small circles to visit with small kids running and playing between and among these circles.

Once the music began, the dancing immediately began. Here I shot back to the present. One thing we’d not normally see in Canada is large groups of men dancing in a circle on the dance floor. At least as much as the women, the men love to dance. Not unlike home, there was also the guy; you know, the one who’s had too much rice wine and won’t leave the dance floor! To Dave’s delight no one insisted he dance. He was busy plying colleagues with beer. You see, just like any other wedding!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shirley Robertson December 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

What a wonderful opportunity to attend a local wedding and feast. You dexcribed it so well I almost felt like I was there.

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