Feeling Happy, Curious and Grateful After Attending our First Nepali Wedding

Kathrine looks at herself in the mirror, while Ola gets dressed in the room next door. Five Nepali women stand around Kathrine making her ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Feeling beautiful in the Nepali sari dress and with a bindi in her forehead, Kathrine looks like a Nepali woman. In the mirror, she sees reflections of the strong sparkling colored clothes wrapped around her body. Ola comes through the door wearing his black suit. He puts on a blue tie. A Nepali traditional hat, a Daka Topi, is put on as a final touch.  All dressed up, Ola and Kathrine are ready to attend their Nepali Wedding for the first time.

Ola Opdal and Kathrine O. Flaate ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Photo: Kathrine O. Flaate

Ola Opdal and Kathrine O. Flaate ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Photo: Kathrine O. Flaate

Nepali weddings span over several days with a variation of events. There is no one wedding tradition that everyone follows. Instead, there are different rituals in every community in Nepal. About 80% of Nepal’s population is Hindu; therefore, most of the wedding ceremonies are according to Hindu traditions. In the second largest religion Buddhism, the weddings have fewer events and rituals.

The sun is warm, the wind is blowing softly as Ola and Kathrine enters the wedding through a big colorful gate decorated with yellow, orange, red and pink colors. They attend one of the wedding events in the home of the bride´s family as the invitation they received was from the bride herself.  Inside the gate, they see a little stage with a sofa decorated and colorful like a Norwegian Christmas tree. The smell of Nepali food being prepared fills the area as the sound of “click, click, click” from all the cameras taking pictures of the beautiful bride overgoes the light chattering of guests.

The colors red and green are repeated in every Nepali wedding. The bride usually wears the color red signifying purity, dignity and honor. Her hands are decorated with beautiful Mehndi patterns symbolizing the transforming from youth to womanhood. Although cast is not formally recognized in Nepal the social stratification system often determines whom you will marry and what kind of wedding traditions you will follow. Endogamy, the practice of marrying within your caste is the norm. The caste represent heritage, family background and values you should behave after.

Ola and Kathrine meet the bride wearing shiny, sparkling accessories and red clothes. They give her a present and a blessing for her coming married life. There is a mass of people around the bride.  Compared to Norwegian weddings there are many more people attending. The expected number of guests throughout the day is around 1000 people. Suddenly all the guest go out in the street. The groom, together with his family and friends, arrives. Ola, Kathrine and the rest of the guest make an open path for the groom and the procession to reach the bride and her family.

The groom and his family visit to the bride’s home is one of the big events during the marriage ceremony. This is called, Janti, and is a wedding procession. The family and friends of the groom gather in a procession and walk the last 500 meters to the bride’s house. When the procession has reached the brides house a welcoming ceremony of the groom is done. The father’s bride and the bride walk three rounds while pouring water around the groom. In the meeting between the groom and the bride, they also exchange Malas; a green flower garlands around the neck.

Among hundreds of guest in a circle around the bride and the groom, Ola and Kathrine stand observing the marriage ceremony taking place. Kathrine stands on her toes to try to see what is going on. They hear blessing, they see proud parents, guests smiling and rituals they cannot explain being. Two lives are now united.

We both feel happy to have experienced parts of a Nepali wedding, curious to learn more about Nepali traditions and grateful to be invited.

Stay tuned for next blog post!

Ola & Kathrine