A Nepalese (Re-)marriage
With the official start of my internship at a local carpet company, I began to make local friends, including Binu, the organising quasi-manager of the company. One day Binu invited me to a wedding, which turned out to rather be the renewal of a marriage in course of the 25th anniversary of the couple, than a real wedding. However, in Nepal this anniversary is celebrated more elaborately than any Western marriage I have been to. Binu just told me that a ‘driver’ would come pick me up the other day, leaving me totally unaware of what I was soon to experience. Eventually, the driver – Binu’s uncle – came to pick me up with his motorcycle.
Going somewhere by bike in Nepal is thrilling, due to an unwritten rule that prohibits wearing a helmet. After unsuccessfully asking for a helmet a couple of times, I gave in and accepted the situation. Later I realised that there simply aren’t any helmets existent. Forced to abandon myself to this incorrect traffic behaviour, running contrary to my German sense of correctness, I started to really enjoy motorcycling on Nepal’s bumpy roads – even without helmets.
After the joyful bike ride, we reached a typical village square, located at one of the needier, indigenous parts of Kathmandu. Binu was already expecting me wearing a bright pink sari, making an entirely different appearance, in comparison to her usual t-shirt and jeans work clothing. An embedded temple was placed in the centre of the square dedicated to various divinities. In course of the usual Saturday ceremonies, the major divine statue got coated with a plethora of different oblations – for instance, flowers, herbs, meat, fruits, money, rice, paint and eggs, among other things. In order to increase the spiritual atmosphere, many herbs and incense were burned.
Then, the actual wedding ceremony began: Bride and groom and the priest were sitting on the floor and the guests were assembled around them. After a crazed two-hour-ceremony, composed of mixing and rearranging different obligation commodities accompanied by the priest’s mumble in Sanskrit (which no one was able to apprehend), the couple’s wedding vow was finally renewed. Conclusively, the invitees lined up to get a Tika (dot on the forehead) and a blessed flower, placed in one’s hair, by the priest. The Tika was produced in course of the ceremony, and was consistent of yogurt, red paint and rice. In order to receive these benedictions, one has to pay the priest 5 rupees.
The ceremony was followed by a meal – everyone sat down on the floor, behind a piece of newspaper, forming a large circle. On the piece of paper there was some sort of dried mashed rice, which we ate manually, with a meat dish. After the meal, we collectively went to a public water tap, lightly touched a public piece of really blue soap and washed our hands. Later on, me, Binu and six of her cousins went to pick up the wedding cake in a compact car, which was definitely too compact to carry all seven of us.
We finally reached the location, where the party would take place, however, we were far from actually celebrating: two hours of womanly beautifying sessions were to follow. Every single female guest, regardless of age or figure, including me, had to undergo an elaborate procedure, of washing, dressing (more precisely, finding a suitable Sari or Kurtha) and finally putting on make up as well as shiny Tikas. With everyone styled, the party started off a little controversial – the extremely sugary wedding cake was served, along with traditionally smoked fish and eggs. The scenery offered a jumping castle, many colourful plastic chairs and a stage, hosting a DJ, who played a mixture of hindi-bollywood tracks, mainstream 2007 hip-hop, and traditional Nepalese folk songs. During the party delicious tofu snacks and less delicious homemade Nepalese liquors were served.
Finally, this impressive day was terminated by a totally unexpected motorcycle night ride back home: So far I had only experienced Kathmandu’s daily chaotic traffic situation, by night the city basically turns into an extraordinary calm and dark sleeping town, which is particularly charming!