Traditional Wedding & Puja in Leknath, Nepal

BIBAHA PUJA (THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY): Marriages in Nepal are still primarily arranged by the parents of the children, though love marriage is becoming more popular. The celebration begins at the home of the groom's parents early on the day of the wedding, where a traditional band of musicians performs as the guests arrive and women serve tea and snacks like selroti. An elaborately woven and decorated garland made of Dubo grass is tied around the groom's neck. This grass necklace, known as a Mala, symbolizes everlasting relationship because Dubo grass will grow without roots. The groom seated in a central location, where each arriving guest can place a tika on his forehead and receive a gift from the family. When all the guests have arrived, everyone boards buses hired for the occasion, with the band members sitting on top of one of the buses, along with any overflow guests who cannot fit inside. The buses carry everyone to the home of the bride, or to a temple near the bride's home, where the wedding ceremony is held. The bride, who is expected to look unhappy and keep her eyes downcast, is led out by two female attendants. Dressed in a vivid sari topped by a second garland, her face is covered with a jewel-encrusted green and red veil. She circles the seated groom three times, pouring water before her in the floor from a silver vase, following which the bride ties a Dubo Mala around the neck of the groom, while onlookers cheer. The groom then removes his garland and ties it around his bride's neck, again to cheers. A similar exchange of wedding rings then occurs. At this point, assuming it has been an arranged marriage, this may only be the second or third time the couple have seen each other. For the next several hours, prayers, anointing, vow-taking, and gift giving continue uninterrupted, while guests feast at a sumptuous banquet. The father of the bride (or eldest male head of household, if the father is not present) ceremoniously presents a gift of cash to all of the groom's relatives, with the most important members of the family receiving gold rings, and all men receiving a topi, the national headgear of Nepal. Hours later, as dusk is gathering, the bride's dowry, usually consisting of an entire household of furniture, is loaded atop one of the buses, and the guests climb aboard for the trip back to the home of the groom's parents. When the newly married couple arrive in a private vehicle the bride goes through short ceremony where she steps over the threshold of her husbands parent's home, where she will begin her life as a married woman, living in a home she has likely never seen, with people she does not know. While the couple retire to their wedding chamber, the guest dance wildly and long into the night, celebrating the union. To read more about my round-the-world travels, visit my blog,