A Traditional Wedding in Nepal

Wedding customs in Nepal vary according to the ethnic tribe, but certain basic rituals remain unchanged. Most weddings in Nepal are arranged by the family and it is not uncommon that the bride and groom have not met each other before the wedding or spoken to each at length. Most weddings take place at the bride’s home and a bride is usually chosen from another village.

The wedding is announced about three weeks before the event. After a ceremonial send off where he is blessed by the elders of the entire village, who put a paste of vermillion and rice on his forehead and gift him some money in his traditional Nepali cap, the groom sets off. The bridegroom’s party usually is an all male affair with a few unmarried girls from the family accompanying him.

Traditionally a wedding involves much music, dance and merriment, which begins as soon as the party leaves the bridegroom’s home. The party often has to trek part of the way if the bride lives in a remote village. They groom is greeted on arrival at his bride’s home with a vermillion ‘tikka’ on his forehead. The party is plied with food and drink and soon the ceremonies begin.

The bride is usually dressed in a red sari, with a matching veil covering her face. She is bedecked with gold jewelry – ear rings, bangles and necklaces. She puts a ‘tikka’ on his forehead and garlands the groom with a special garland made of grass that she has strung. The couple exchange rings and the guests shower them with red rice. The priest chants mantras and makes several offerings to the holy fire that has been lit.

After a festive meal the guests greet and bless the couple in an unusual way. The couple rest their feet on the edge of a copper vessel and the guests take turns to pour water on their feet. As the water falls of their feet the person gathers it in his palms drinks a little of it and throws the rest over his shoulders. This signifies the piety of the union.

In another ceremony the mother of the bride pours water into her husband’s palm which then flows over the brides hands into the bride grooms palms. This is the symbolic giving away of the bride. The couple then returns to the bridegroom’s home.