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I was sitting at the rooftop café chatting away with Avishek (exotic sounding name right?!?) when suddenly I heard a marching band. I mean, how often do you see and hear a marching band anywhere, much less in Boudhanath?!? I grabbed my camera and ran over to see what the commotion was about. Trying taking a wild guess...

 
It was a Tibetan wedding! I only have one couple in my life who was awesome enough to have a marching band at their wedding in the States, but that is a whole different story that also involves me wearing my green couture dress and taking Marta to the wedding..I digress, brilliance and laughter, but a story for a different time!

 The band, the monks, the wedding party and the guests were rounding the Stupa and drawing incredible amounts of attention. Go figure, with those instruments being played they were kind of hard to miss!
 
The three guys leading the march had obviously had a few drinks. They were having the grandest time leading the group and would run over into the crowd to get them involved. Just watching them was the funniest part of it all!
 
Followed by the wedding couple hidden away under the umbrella. I could only imagine how hot they were under the layers of clothing. From what I could see it rivals the layers and heaviness of the wedding dress and tux in the States.

One break from wedding talk for a Public Service Announcement:

I call this the “Plateau of Extremes.” Umbrellas are a necessity here - sun or rain. When it rains, it rains hard, the obvious reason for needing an umbrella. But when it is sunny, it feels as though the sun is sitting on your head. It IS that intense!

 Seeing the band of course got me onto the topic of weddings. After all, if they go to that length to announce it to the world there has to be an incredible amount that goes on behind the scenes...so Avishek, Chhewang, Khadka and Google gave me the scoop.


Here my condensed version of what leads up to weddings from the “Top of the World”
 

All of this hinges upon the stars, the planetary alignment (quit snickering) and the Lama (Buddhist) or Priest (Hindu) giving his blessing. They take this much more seriously here than we do in the States and have a compatibility and marriage "test" that out does anything that I went through with my Priest when I got married. I had to dig deeper into the compatibility pieces after listening to everyone give me their scoop on what happens.
 
First you need to get your Tibetan astrological sign. The Priest or Lama take a look at where you born, what time, what date, and your parent's signs. This is serious business!
 
If interested, go to this page to see an in-depth listing of your sign, dates, when to's, etc. Along with knowing your Tibetan sign you can also determine your auspicious day, good day and bad day. Start watching these and you will find out that it’s pretty much on mark. I now know the right days to start projects or when to refrain from big decisions on tough things. The other days are considered neutral.
 
Also, check the bottom of the page for the best days to get your haircut. I swear there is something to it. I had my bangs cut in Bali on a bad, bad, bad day to get your haircut and it took two months for them to grow again...I looked like a kid who had whacked them myself with a pair of dull scissors. It was horrible. Here Tenzin told me about the Tibetan days for haircuts, I checked into it, had his girlfriend cut my hair on the day for happiness (couldn’t wait for a wealth day because I needed a haircut SO badly) and I swear I’ve had happy days ever since, even on the not-so-great days, plus a great haircut.
 
Then check your sun sign.
 
And your numerology. I know…the list is getting long.
 
Okay, so now I’m creating a chart so that we can write all of this down and keep track.


Now, back to the story...

In Nepal, due to the majority of the population being devout Hindus, they have something called a "china" (pronounced – cheena), a long, detailed chart that has every detail about you and your birth. Like: exact time and place of birth, the position of the stars and planets, parents' details, etc. That was the reason for collecting all of the information I listed above. When two people are getting married, these “chinas” are looked upon in great detail by priests who know all of this. Then, an auspicious day is chosen during one of the two wedding seasons, and the couple get married. Therefore, you may see a bunch of marriages in a month or two and no marriages for the next six months.

 
For some reason it dawned on me to ask Khadka today if couples here actually have to register at a government office and get a wedding certificate. My thought being, if the income level is so low are they going to spend money on an official wedding and register it with a government office? Whatdaya know...some do, some don’t. It depends primarily upon if one member of the couple ever plans on leaving the country. They have a much, much better chance of getting a visa here if they are married, that means that there is someone here waiting for the other half to come home!
 

Ceremonial vs. Court

 
So that shows me that there are two types of marriages here. The Court Marriage that is official and complete with the certificate issued at the government office. The Ceremonial Marriage for the couple who doesn’t plan on leaving the country, doesn’t need the “official status,” and just wants to be married. I’m guessing that more couples here are ceremonial vs. court due to most Nepalese not liking the government bureaucracy and having to pay the fees. Which is fine with me, I believe that too many Americans get married, become lazy, wave that marriage certificate around claiming the other is “theirs” and forgets that they actually have to put some effort into keeping their relationship in good order. Hence, a high, high divorce rate.


Arranged Marriage vs. Love Marriage


Yes, arranged marriages still exists here! Arranged marriages can be following types:
 
Scenario 1: The parents or relatives of the guy and gal talk to each other and decide if the person is of the same caste, same education level, etc. Usually it is all contingent upon the caste and money. Then, and only then, the guy and gal finally meet each other... on the wedding day! This usually only happens in rural areas.
 
Scenario 2: The parents or relatives of the guy and gal talk to each other and decide the above things. Then, they show a picture of the person to the potential couple. If the guy and gal decide that he/she looks like a good mate, they meet up on a date. If they are compatible and like each other after dating for sometime, then they give the go ahead, and get married.
 
Scenario 3: Child marriages - still happens in poor areas. The parents get their daughter married for an easier life, or in most cases, because they believe that the husband and his family can give her a better life. It worked back in the days, but nowadays, the poor little girl’s life becomes worse.


Love marriages can be of the following types:


Scenario 1: Elopement - happens when two lovey-doveys like each other, but their parents do not agree to the relationship. Usually, this disagreement arises because the guy/girl may be from a different caste or socio-economic status. So, they just run away.
 
Scenario 2: The guy and girl like each other, the guy asks the girl, "Hey, will you marry me?" If the girls says no, then of course, no marriage. But, if she says yes, then they both tell their parents (sometimes in a complete state of nervousness) and if the parents agree, they meet each other, discuss stuff, and the two get married.
 
The actual marriage ceremony takes place over two or three days and can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 USD. Think about that number…my rent here at a nice, nice homestay is $80 per month and the average person makes less than $200 per year….see now why I’m thinking more marriages here are ceremonial?!?
 
The one piece of the pre-marriage ceremony that was repeated by all three people that I talked to revolved around the “china.” The alignment of the planets, the personality traits and the families play a huge part in marriages here. I think Americans could learn a lot from the Nepalese in that regard.

 

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copyright 2011-2017 Loxley Browne

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