By Sambridhi Shrestha

Nepal is one of the world’s most culturally diverse nations with 126 castes and ethnic groups speaking as many as 123 languages. This diverse culture having different festive and celebration, weddings are also celebrated in different ways according to their casts. Amongst different casts system, one of the largest cast systems is the Newar community. They also have the highest number of festivals throughout the year.

Now talking about how they celebrate wedding sounds exhausting and mesmerizing at the same time. The weddings of a Newari (a name for the people of the Newar community) is as rich as their culture; full of rituals, respecting the Gods and absolute joy throughout the process. Not limited to just a day of the wedding these weddings tend to take more time than western weddings.

A Newari Wedding starts with the ritual of, the groom side sending twelve areca nut in a huge silver bowl along with fruits, sweets, gold jewelry, clothes and other cosmetic accessories for the bride which are decorated and displayed in trays in an eye-catching way. The groom and the groom’s mother is absent in this ceremony whereas the bride’s mother starts the ceremony by worshipping lord Ganesh, lord of fire(Agni devta) and other god and goddesses. This ritual is usually performed four days before the wedding on the same day as the bride side’s reception party.

The trays sent by the groom’s family to the bride.

Influenced by the Indian culture most of the brides have Mehendi (Henna tattoo) a ceremony which involves only the ladies of bride’s family who apply mehendi on their hands and feet along with dancing and singing. There is a myth that the darker the imprint of mehendi the deeper will be the love between the couple. This ceremony is usually performed one day before the wedding.

Mother of the bride fulfilling the wedding rituals.

Moving forward towards the wedding day, the bride all decked up in a red heavy embroidery saree (a traditional Nepali cloth) along with a red vale on her head and gold jewelry and red glass bangles to enrich the appearance of the bride. In Hindu culture the color red is regarded as the color of married women hence, the attire and accessories are mostly in red. On the other hand, the groom has two options for this attire which is a formal suit or a daura suruwal (a traditional Nepali cloth). All the other members who are present in the ceremony are seen in traditional attires and accessorized by different pieces of jewelry.

The couple exchanging rings.

The groom along with a troop of musicians along with hundred to two hundred family members arrive at the wedding venue in a car which is decorated with flowers called the “Janti”. The ceremony starts by welcoming the groom and his family by the bride’s family. The bride and groom sit together and the rituals begin which is guided by a “Pujari Baje” who is like a priest in the marriage. The ceremony is called the “Swayamber” when the bride and groom exchange rings and put on gold jewelry on each other.  The major part of the wedding is when the groom puts sindoor (vermilion) on the bride’s forehead and a necklace made up of red beads which has a gold pendant.

The groom applying vermilion on the bride’s forehead.

Along with the rituals, there are fun moments in the long process as well when the bride’s sisters which is the groom’s sisters-in-law hide the groom’s shoes and the groom’s family try to protect but are mostly unsuccessful. Later the bride’s sisters negotiate and bargains with cash for the return of the shoes.

Troop of musicians leading the way.

At the end of the wedding ceremony, we can see the overflowing emotions of the bride and bride’s family expressed through tears. After all the rituals the bride departs from her family and leaves with the groom. The troop of musicians starts to play the music and the groom family dance in joy until they reach the groom’s home. The mother of the groom welcomes the bride in the house and fulfills the remaining rituals.

Unlike western weddings, Nepalese weddings tend to last for five to six hours creating a magical chaos. We can witness so many mixed emotions at the same time which is mesmerizing and beautiful.

In the post-wedding ceremony which is mostly on the day of groom side reception, the bride’s family returns the areca nut that was brought by the groom side before the wedding along with the trays that were brought with them. The bride side adds more trays of fruits, clothes and other items along with jewelry and clothes. On the same day, the bride and groom are returned to the bride’s home and everyone from the bride’s family is introduced to the groom by giving the areca nut to the family members.

The preparations for the wedding starts from months before it, all the relatives and closed family members come forward to help in the wedding. The celebration continues for almost a week fueled by alcohol, long buffet and crazy dancing.

Photo Credit: Fotopasal