A few weeks ago, Indu Didi (the volunteer house & office didi/superwoman) invited the volunteers to attend her nephew’s wedding in their village. Four of us accepted the invitation to immerse ourselves in our very first Nepali wedding, and what an experience it was.
Before going, we decided it was appropriate to buy a wedding gift. In Nepali culture, it is customary to gift fabrics or cloth, so off we went sari shopping. Indu Didi gave us advice on the appropriate colour and style and we settled on a lovely red one. It’s a lot more difficult to buy a sari for a stranger than for oneself.
Our adventure started out with a 4 hour bus-ride out of Kathmandu, followed by a tour of the town, getting our eyebrows threaded and having henna painted on our hands (a 3-4 hour affair). We were woken at 4:45 am on the morning of the wedding and told to put our saris on so we’d be ready for the bus at 7 am. Getting ready quickly, we ended up having to wait until 9 am before the bus left (oh, Nepali time …). The tradition is that the groom (and everyone on his side) travels to the bride’s village for a short ceremony, a meal, and finally takes her back to the groom’s home. It took about 4 hours to get there and, once we’d been fed and had watched the ceremony, we danced in the streets back to the bus. We didn’t return to the groom’s village until fairly late that night, piling out of our buses with the Nepali band and dancing down the street. When the couple reached the groom’s home, there was another short ceremony/blessing before they were welcomed into the house.
The next day was beautiful and we went on a short hike up to the Nuwakot lookout point and Durbar Square. The wedding party was held that night – food galore, saris and dancing! It seems like the only person not having a great time was the bride, but this was understandable. The wedding was an arranged, rather than a ‘love’, marriage, with the bride and groom probably only meeting once or twice beforehand. It is on the day of the wedding that the bride is expected to leave her home and say goodbye to her former life. She was in tears for most of the first day, and was really only able to crack a few smiles on the second.
- Charlotte Allison (Canada)