Weddings in Nepal are momentous occasions which are often planned years in advance of the wedding itself. In line with other festivals in Nepal, weddings are colourful and beautiful events.
Traditionally, weddings in Nepal are arranged by the respective families. It is not uncommon for matches to be decided when the two individuals are still children. However, child marriages in Nepal – as with the majority of countries the rest of the world, are illegal and the couple therefore wait until adulthood to complete their marriage rites. Traditionally families in Nepal consider a number of factors before arranging the marriage. These factors may include caste (traditionally marriages do not happen across castes), religion, ethnicity and also the consideration of ties between families in an effort to build allegiances. It is important that arranged marriage and forced marriage in Nepal are not confused. It is not normal practice for families in Nepal who are arranging marriages to force their offspring to marry someone that they do not wish to marry. The offspring are also consulted and it is important that they consent to the marriage.
It is worth noting however, that there is a slow shift in Nepal away from arranged marriages to ‘love’ marriages i.e. individuals now have more freedom in Nepal to chose who they wish to marry without family interference. There is also a shift in Nepal towards marriage across castes (which traditionally was strongly resisted) and across ethnic groups.
Hindu weddings and marriages in Nepal are colourful occasions and travellers to Nepal may be fortunate enough to witness either the wedding itself or, at least to witness the wedding parties making the journey to the bride’s house. These journeys can sometimes take a number of days to complete due to the distance between the groom and bride’s home. Hindu marriages in Nepal are often arranged with the assistance of a priest, who analyses the horoscopes of the couple to ensure that they are compatible and they typically take place during the days of selected months.
Buddhist weddings in Nepal are often quieter occasions, with a focus on ceremonial displays. The weddings are usually extremely large, sometimes encompassing whole villages and large numbers of extended family.
Sherpa weddings and marriages differ to Hindu and Buddhist weddings quite considerably. Sometimes the marriage rites for the couple are completed years in advance of the actual wedding ceremony and consequently, the couple may even have their children attend the wedding!
For a marriage in Nepal to be legally-binding, the couple must meet the Government of Nepal’s requirements. The legal marrying age in Nepal is 20 years old for men and 20 years old for women. The authorities responsible for registering marriages involving foreigners are the Chief District Administrative Office for each district, popularly known as “CDO office.” In Kathmandu, the CDO office is located in Babar Mahal.
Registering your marriage at the CDO
To apply for a Government of Nepal-issued marriage certificate, you must submit the Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry with other required papers at the CDO office. The CDO also requires evidence of your nationality, photographs, and a nominal processing fee. After you apply, the CDO will check your legal status in Nepal with various government offices. This process may take some weeks. After the CDO processes your application, they will issue a marriage certificate, which is usually written in both Nepali and English.
What happens in a typical marriage !?
Wedding customs in Nepal vary according to ethnic groups and castes. Nepal, have different kinds of wedding ceremonies because of varieties of cast and creeds. Weddings in the metropolitans have parades or car for the wedding processions; full fledged band instruments such as trumpets and trombones, ferry lights all over the house which is naturally more expenses. These weddings are completely different from the traditional remote village weddings. They are very simple for very rich in culture.
Wedding in Nepal is a multi day event, which may engross an entire village. In its essence, it reveals the very strong social and communal values of the Nepali people. Few things in Nepali culture take precedence over a wedding and most people treat the time as the opportunity of a lifetime and a time to hold back and celebrate with varieties of foods, fun and dancing.
Weddings generally take place in tender age in Nepal. It is normal for boys and girls to be married during their teens but in few cases in very young ages. The wedding procedure usually begins with an arrangement of a boy and a girl with comparable backgrounds; often with the help of a priest who are well know as matchmaker. The meeting takes place between the parents of the two families. In an arranged marriage, it is the parents who choose their children’s partners. One additional note concerning the arranged marriage: even though the parents choose the individuals, the children are commonly given a voice to accept or decline the match. There are instances, however, of a couple not seeing each other for the first time until the ceremony begins. In a love marriage, it is the boy and the girl who choose their mate. Today, both types can be found throughout the country but it is the arranged marriage that predominates.
However, the love marriage method has been gaining much acceptance over the years perhaps due to the influence of western culture and more over with the drastic develop in media. Eloping may occur between couples that are not thought to be a suitable match in case of different castes & tribes.
Castes are in many ways an extended family. And there are cultural rules that dictate that one must marry into the same caste, but not the same family. There are many small villages today that are predominantly one family. Therefore it is common that a one must look to neighboring villages to marry. This explains why most village marriages are a marriage between one person from one village and the other from another village sometimes days apart. It also explains why marriages last many days as logistics and travel prevent a single day event.
After the initial marriage arrangement takes place, the wedding begins with a gathering of the traveling party at the groom’s house. Celebrations are made and rituals are performed with the local priest and the party then travels to the bride’s village with the procession… This party particularly consists of males only. Once the procession reaches the bride’s village, the groom’s family gamble, drink while the priest performs the ceremony followed by a big feast.
One of the important events in our traditional wedding is that the groom puts a pinch of red-colored powder on the bride’s forehead. This symbolizes that they are now husband and wife. This red color on the woman’s forehead differentiates whether she is married or not. The bride and groom by tradition are always carried either in a wooden casket or by horse (if financially feasible). The bride after being handed over to the groom by her parents will then travel to the groom’s village to become a member of his family’s household.
The Nepali way of life is completely different in comparison to the West. The inheritance goes to son if one and will be divided in to equal part if there are more. The married couples almost always live with the groom’s parents. Traditionally the couple will either inherit the parent’s land and house or eventually build their own house when feasible.
The ceremony is a very serious affair for the two young people. The bride is dressed in red, which is the color for marriage. Often, she sheds tear as the time to leave approaches. This may be a true feeling of apprehension of leaving the home and family or it may be just a traditional requisite. But many young girls cannot wait to leave the boredom of their life and look forward to having a family of their own.
As we have seen the different way of wedding such as wedding in the air during sky diving, under water wedding in ocean during scuba diving, wedding in the highest peak of the world, Mt. Everest during expedition any many more unique ways to cherish the moment for lifetime. The traditional Nepali wedding is one of those experiences to gather. As mentioned earlier, wedding customs in Nepal differ according to ethnic groups and castes.
It is believed that Hindu way of marriage lasts long. Once they are married they are married for eternity or let’s say many lives. If you have girl friend or boy friend and you are planning getting married, why not marry in Nepal? If you are interested getting married in Nepal or doing volunteering in a marriage ceremony please write us. We are here to provide you such opportunities.