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Saturday morning, at Buddhanilkantha next to the 5m-long Sleeping Vishnu statue in a pond, under a colorful tent, a traditional Nepali wedding took place between my English friend from the summer course and his Nepali sweetheart. We were so excited that we would be invited to witness a traditional wedding ceremony, and I personally was joyful I was finally wearing my sari, which until then had been waiting two and a half years in my closet to be worn (Putting on a sari is hard work!). The mother of the bride welcomed us and we were seated in front of a smoky fire pit along with much burning of incense. The pit was totally encircled by orange flower garlands, and loads of trays with both small and large items that were part of the rituals…plenty of green leafed bowls, filled with different kinds of substances, colored powders, rice, oils, yogurt, flower petals, etc. were completing the altar scene.
In contrast with the weddings in the West, the bride wore a red sari, and was astoundingly adorned with various heavy golden ornaments, hanging from all limbs, neck, and even face. Unlike in the West, the bride was the one was waiting for the groom at the altar and not the groom as we are used too! The groom arrived dressed in a traditional Nepali costume, with a topi (a traditional Nepali hat) and a kukuri (a traditional knife) in his belt, escorted but numerous musicians while playing loud and festive-joyful music with large and sometimes funny musical instruments.
The wedding ceremony was the longest I have ever been to. It lasted four hours because the ceremony includes numerous ritual performances, one after the other in endless succession. The priest and the family members gave tikka to the bride and groom again and again, the couple walked together holding a bed-seat around the fire, the family washed their hands and feet and drank pouring water… What impressed me a lot was that the bride is not supposed to smile or make gestures of jubilation, but instead is supposed to look sad and humble because she is going to be separated from her family. One of the many customs that amused and impressed me was when two groups, one of boys and one of girls, tore apart the two edges of a bed sheet while the couple was seated underneath. The winning camp signified the sex of the couple’s future baby.
I am very pleased I had the chance to witness such a beautiful wedding. Not only was I amazed by the sensory stimulus, like the variety of ritual items, the colorful mosaic of the women’s saris, the pleasing fragrances in the air and the cheerful music, but also I could sense that a holy union was taking place between a man and a woman. It was definitely the most exciting wedding ceremony I’ve had the privilege to see.
Wishing heaps of happiness to the couple!
Zeta from Greece