Nepal Travel Guide
Traditional Village Weddings

Author: Richard K Rotto - USA

A wedding party is traveling between villages fronted by the trumpeters
In general, weddings vary from caste to caste and from region to region. For example, weddings in the larger cities may have cars for parades; band instruments (like trumpets and trombones), Christmas-like lights and electricity, and in many cases more money. These weddings of course differ greatly from the traditional remote village weddings. The pictures represent more the traditional remote village wedding. Definitely the majority of weddings fall into this category.

The wedding is a multi day event, which may engross an entire village. In its essence, it reveals the very strong social and communal values of the Nepali people. Few things in Nepali culture take precedence over a wedding and most people treat the time as the opportunity that it is...a time to stop and celebrate life with food, fun, and dancing.

Weddings generally take place between people of fairly young age. It is more the norm than exception for boys and girls to be married by the time they are 16 or 17, many times even younger. Historically, girls purposely had their marriages arranged before they started menstruating.

Groom goes to meet the bride in her village
The wedding procedure usually begins with an arrangement of a boy and a girl with comparable backgrounds, often with the help of a priest-type matchmaker. A meeting then takes place between the parents of the two parties. In an arranged marriage, it is the parents who choose their children's partners. In a love marriage, it is the boy and the girl who choose their mate. Today, both types can be found throughout the country but it is the arranged marriage that predominates.

However, the love marriage method has been gaining much acceptance over the years perhaps due to the influence of western culture.

One additional note concerning the arranged marriage: even though the parents choose the individuals, the children are commonly given a voice to accept or decline the match. There are instances, however, of a couple not seeing each other for the first time until the ceremony begins. Eloping may occur between couples that are not thought to be a suitable match, such as different castes. Though not much of an option in village life is not unheard of in the larger more modern towns.

Castes are in many ways an extended family. And there are cultural rules that dictate that one must marry into the same caste, but not the same family. There are many small villages today that are predominantly one family. Therefore it is common that a one must look to neighboring villages to marry. This explains why most village marriages are a marriage between one person from one villlage and the other from another village sometimes days apart. It also explains why marriages last many days as logistics and travel prevent a single day event. As seen in the photo above, a wedding party is traveling between villages fronted by the trumpeters which announce the party around each bend, hill, and village along the trail.

After the intitial marriage arrangement has taken place, the wedding begins with a gathering of the traveling party at the groom's house. Celebrations are made and rituals are performed with the local priest and the party then travels to the bride's village. This party regularly consists of males only. Once in the bride's village, the groom's family plays cards, the priest performs the ceremony, and a big feast is eaten.

The bride, after being given away by her mother
Here the groom goes to meet the bride in her village as he is carried by the wedding procession. The bride and groom by tradition are always carried, either in a basket like this or by horse (if financially feasible).

The bride, after being given away by her mother (in the photo) and father will then travel to the groom's village to become a member of his family's household.

Because the Nepali way of life is one of agriculture and inheritance goes to the sons, the married couple almost always live with the groom's parents. Traditionally the couple will either inherit the parent's land and house (eldest son) or eventually build their own house when feasible.

The bride and herfather are travelingto the groom's village
The ceremony is a very serious affair for the two young people. The bride is dressed in red, which is the color for marriage. Often, she will shed tears as the time to leave approaches. This may be a true feeling of apprehension of leaving the home and family or it may be just a traditional requisite. But many young girls cannot wait to leave the boredom of their life and look forward to having a family of their own.
Courtesy of Association for Tourism, Nepal
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