During our time in Nepal we’ve been to many weddings, both Hindu and Christian weddings, both of which look quite different to a western wedding, full of their own traditions. We did blog about one back in 2009, but we've been to plenty since then.
|The bride, a colleague from KISC|
We’ve never actually been to the wedding ceremony for a Hindu wedding, as these are usually just for closest friends and family, just the reception which usually happens on a different day. You arrive at the reception, go and meet the party, who are usually sat on thrones and give them a gift and your blessings. Then you socialise, while drinks and snacks are passed around. Often there is a room with loud music for those who enjoy a dance. Once you are done, you go and get your Dhal Bhat (rice and curry), and then leave.
You might be there for a few hours, but for that whole time the wedding party are sat receiving guests and gifts, looking unhappy (it’s a traditional requirement for the bride as you are required to be sad to be leaving your family), as literally hundreds of guests arrive. The largest wedding I went to had over 900 guests.
Another factor, strange to our western experience, is that most of the weddings I’ve been to I don’t know the bride or groom. We have usually been invited as we know the parents of one or the other. The first ever wedding we went to was our landlords niece's, and we'd only been in our flat a week at the time! It is very much tradition that you invite everyone you know to your child’s wedding. These can be very expensive events to cater a Dhal Bhat for several hundred people.
|With the Bride and Groom at a recent wedding. The father|
of the Bride is a colleague
The people group who traditionally hail from the Kathmandu valley are called Newari – and at these wedding receptions you don’t even get the groom! If you know the bride, then you are invited to the bride’s reception, which takes place a few days before the actual marriage ceremony. Only the bride’s friends and family are invited to the bride’s reception. Then a few day’s later, after the marriage ceremony is the grooms reception, which both bride and groom attend.
Christian weddings tend to be a mix of the traditional Nepali wedding and western weddings. On arrival there is usually the snacks, but then there is a wedding service, quite similar to a western service with vows and songs. The bride wears white as opposed to the traditional red sari and parades in at the start of the service, although they still sit on thrones at the front of the church. And of course afterwards there is the Dhal Bhat. You can’t have an event in Nepal without the Dhal Bhat.