It was a usual day at the Castle Resort in Pokhara. I was sitting with Joe in the bar and we were talking about things when Myriam and her husband Kumar – a Nepali native – arrived.
Myriam and Kumar knew Joe since a few years. They were living in Luxembourg and were in Nepal for a week to attend the wedding of Kumar’s niece.
Spending our time together, Myriam and I became good friends in very short time. Just two days before the wedding, we were sitting in the bar when Kumar and Myriam told me that they would like to invite me to the wedding.
How could I say no? It was a chance to closely experience a traditional Nepali wedding and I wasn’t sure whether I would get that chance again. ‘Yes, I would love to join all of you at the wedding,’ I said immediately to Kumar and Myriam.
Joe and I were told to reach the venue at 11:00 am. As it goes with almost all Nepali (and Indian) weddings, the rituals never really start on time. They usually get delayed by a few hours and if you reach the venue on time, you can do nothing but to wait for the wedding to start (and then finish).
Joe decided that we will leave at 12 o’clock in the noon. The venue – a ‘party place’ as they call it – was about 20 – 25 minutes away from the Castle Resort.
We took Paudel’s – the beloved taxi driver Joe has known for years – taxi and reached the venue. It was a usual hot day in Pokhara and as we assumed, the rituals had not started.
As we got out of the taxi, Joe and I were greeted and welcomed by elder family members from the bride’s side. After a warm welcome, we had a look around the place.
The party place was nicely decorated with flowers and some men were playing live music – some folk tunes – to create the ‘marriage atmosphere.’
The whole marriage hall looked very colorful with red and green being the dominant colors. Most men were wearing a black suit and the Dhaka topi (traditional cap commonly wore by Nepali men), while women were dressed in colorful saris.
I was wearing a full-sleeved shirt with a denim. Obviously, I didn’t have more appropriate clothes for the wedding.
Before we found a place to sit, we went to a table where two men were sitting with a book to write name, address, and amount of money given by the guest. Joe gave them a cover and they wrote his details.
Nepali Wedding Rituals
With Hinduism and Buddhism being two dominant beliefs in Nepal, almost all Nepali weddings follow either of the religion’s customs.
Like in India, it is common in Nepal that the partners may have never met before marriage. Their matchmaking is done by family members (arranged marriage) and partners are chosen depending on their caste, social and economic status (class), and background.
In Indian and Nepali urban areas this is changing with more men and women choosing their own partner (love marriage). But even today, it is common for partners in arranged marriages to meet for the first time on the day of the wedding.
Many families agree to hold an engagement or ring ceremony sometime before marriage, to begin with. The engagement is then followed by marriage at a temple or a hall.
The marriage I was attending had no engagement ceremony – I was told – and the bride and the groom knew each other for a few days only.
I will not get into details of different customs of a Nepali wedding (or a Hindu wedding, in general) but many Nepali marriage rituals are similar to Indian ones – with a few visible differences.
As in India, it’s quite common to have different traditions depending on the caste and local culture. Sometimes the whole wedding can last up to a week or be finished in three days, too.
After sitting for a while, we spotted Myriam and Kumar. The marriage ceremony began soon afterward.
The pretty bride and handsome groom were sitting under a decorated canopy (the ‘vivah mandap’). One by one, different family members went to them to shower them with their blessings. Each family had to do this in a pre-determined order when their names/relationship with the bride/groom were announced.
Each family member washed the feet of the couple with water from a copper bowl. They also apply a red tika on the marriage partners’ forehead. With many relatives following the same custom, the couple will soon have their forehead full of red tika.
During all this, the priest (purohit) will read ‘mantras’ in Sanskrit and give directions for the ceremony.
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With changing times, Nepali weddings now offer different dishes at weddings. The wedding I attended had a buffet with local food items to choose from.
The buffet included the regular daal and rice, a few vegetable dishes, a meat dish, and puri. In dessert, they had ice cream.
As it was a hot day, I didn’t want to fill my belly with much food so I took some rice with meat gravy on it. I also tasted a little of each vegetable dishes with some puris. A scoop of ice cream at the end brought some relief to my boiling hot body.
I must say that the food was quite delicious – especially the meat gravy. I wanted to take more but I didn’t. It’s hard for me to control, but I did.
One thing I couldn’t help but notice that most guests were literally ‘over filling’ their dishes with food. They would take everything in large quantities – and even serve their children in the same way.
Needless to say that they – especially children – didn’t finish their dish and the food would go directly in the trash. Such a waste of food it is.
The Nepali Dance
After filling their bellies with delicious Nepali food, the guests had become more energetic. The music was already being played and the relatives started dancing one by one.
The Nepali dancing is interesting, I must say. Following the change in tunes, everyone was enjoying the dance. And dancing is contagious – when one person starts dancing, others will soon join the party.
Slowly moving their bodies, girls and boys, women and men, were grooving to the rhythm. It was entertaining to see everyone enjoying their time.
Needless to say that I didn’t dance! I am immune to the ‘dance virus,’ you see?
The Time When Everyone Cries
After the marriage rituals are finished and everyone is done dancing (and eating, of course), there comes the heavy moment. It’s time to bid farewell to the bride as the groom will take her to his house.
As the final moment to say goodbye to the bride comes near, everyone starts crying. The mother cries the most, and accompanying her are her close relatives and friends.
The father cries in the corner – trying to hide his feelings.
Children have no idea of what’s going on – so they start crying. The babies who were enjoying the comfort of their mothers’ hands till now – will start crying, too. And when one baby cries, other babies have to join the chorus.
And crying – like yawning – is contagious. One after another, everyone has eyes full of tears.
Some ‘strong’ relatives hold up their tears and become busy calming down others’ emotions. They will end up crying soon, too – while asking others not to cry.
The bride who was already crying a little since the ceremony began – seeing her dear ones shedding tears – starts crying in full swing. The groom somewhat tries to comfort her but fails, of course.
But there’s no alternative to saying goodbye. Slowly, they start moving towards the groom’s car. Everyone is hugging the bride and expresses the love. The emotions are flowing all around the place and the couple finally reaches the car. The emotional scene continues for a while before the couple finally enters the car.
It’s the final moment to say goodbye. The father who had been crying in the corner till now will not be able to hide his feeling anymore. He will start crying his heart out for his daughter.
This moment actually makes my heart cry, too. I love how we, as humans, are so well connected with invisible strings of emotion. No matter you are sad or happy, letting your emotions flow is the right thing to do and that’s what everyone does.
After the bride is gone, the whole place sounds deserted. You feel like a storm has just passed and everything is calm. You can still see the parents sobbing – not ready to believe their beloved daughter is no longer with them. Facing the facts is often hard, I know.
Attending a Nepali Wedding: Summing Up
The joyous day which began with everyone enjoying the marriage ends with an emotional touch. The family has said a heavy goodbye to the bride. All they can do now is to wish that their child stays happy forever after.
The bride is nervous about being a part of a whole new family. Thoughts must have been taking over her mind, and even as a man, I know how hard it must have been for the bride – especially when the couple doesn’t know each other for more than a few days.
As the beautiful day of my first Nepali wedding came to an end, I and Joe took a ride back to the Castle Resort. As I was leaving for Kathmandu the next day, Myriam joined us for drinks later in the evening when we talked about our wonderful time together.
So this was the first time when I attended a Nepali wedding. I had a great time observing and understanding the rituals.
What about you? Have you attended a Nepali wedding ceremony? What do you think about their rituals? Share your experience with me.
Are you a Nepali? Do let me know if this article needs some correction.
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All right, folks! This was Parvez and you were reading The Day When I Attended A Nepali Wedding in Pokhara on Parvezish. I hope you found this article worth your time and I would like to thank you for reading.