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Swayambar: thenewari saga - Nepali Wedding

Nepal is a multi cultured society with Hindus and Buddhist. The natives of Kathmandu are traditionally known as Newars who are basically traders. Marriage ceremonies of Newars are celebrated differently in different cultural groups. Traditionally marriages in Nepal are arranged marriages where parents of the marrying couple along with their relatives and match making priest finalize the match between the couples. Majority of marriage ceremonies in Nepal are solemnized as per traditional Hindu customs and are synonymous with festivity, feasting and music.

Newari wedding customs are quite elaborate with various pre and post wedding ceremonies. Lets's have a quick delve into it.

Pre Wedding Rituals

The first Meeting:  Nepal has a strong tradition of arranged marriages. The modern day love marriages are also solemnized but they are too far and few. The potential bride and groom meet each other along with their families during the First Meeting. It will be facilitated by a mediator known as Lami. If the families find each other compatible and develop a mutual liking for each other, they exchange horoscopes which are forwarded to the astrologer. The astrologer then takes a call on their potential marriage depending on the good or bad points of their horoscope. Once the horoscopes of the bride and the groom are matched, the astrologer then shortlists potential date for the wedding as per the Hindu lunar calendar.

Kura Chhinne or Engagement: Kura Chhinne also commonly known as tika-tala is the first official ceremony where the bride and the groom get engaged. Engagement rings are exchanged between the couple while the girl's and the boy's family exchange mutual gifts. The bride's father accepts the proposal made on the behalf of the groom by offering paan and supari to the groom by way of invitation.

Payanaja: Before the wedding ceremony, there is a custom known as Payanaja in which the bride is invited to all her close relative's family. The relatives shower their love and affection on the bride by offering her delicious food and sweets. The last her maternal uncle where a grand feast is organized for the girl. After the feasting the bride to be is given a grand farewell by the family.

Duradai: A day before the wedding ceremony, the groom's family sends milk mixed with cardamom, dry fruit and other herbs to the girl's house. The ceremony known as duradai is a symbolic gesture to thank the groom's mother for the time she spent breast feeding her daughter.

Ratyauli: Ratyauli is an event where no men are welcome and women folk of the groom's family celebrate the evening with dancing and acting. There is also a reference to the sexual communion between the couple post their wedding depicted artistically in various cultural dances and songs.

Janti: Janti is the official wedding procession that takes off from the groom's house on the wedding night. The Janti or the wedding parade is usually headed by five famous musical instruments known as panche baja. The dancing party of the Janti follows the musical instruments along with the groom and his family members.

Nepali Wedding Ceremony:

Swayambar: The janti or the wedding procession is received by the girl's family. Both the bride and groom are dressed in traditional clothing. While the groom wears the traditional head gear, the bride wears the traditional mehendi and gold jewelry. Swayambar or the exchange of garlands is the most important wedding ritual which is performed when the bride and the groom exchange garlands made of flowers. The floral garlands are placed by the bride and the groom across each other's neckline.

Kanyadan: Kanyadan is the official give away ceremony conducted by the parents of the bride during the wedding ceremony The wedding ceremony is performed in a mandap where the bride and groom take the holy vow by walking together around a sacred conflagration of fire for seven times. The wedding ceremony is completed amid chanting on Sanskrit shlokas by the priest. After the wedding is solemnized, the groom puts a red vermilion on top of bride's forehead signifying her as her lawfully wedded wife.

Bidai: Bidai also known as Anmaune ceremony marks the final wedding ceremony where the bride and the groom leave the mandap to go back to the groom's house. Bidai is often an emotional ceremony with family members of the bride saying goodbye as the bride enters her new life along with her husband.

Post Wedding Rituals

Jante-Bakhro: Jante Bakhro means feasting of goat meat and is celebrated when the newly married couple returns to the house of the groom. The family members along with relatives and friends sing and dance and feat on various delicacies to mark the successful marriage.

Dulhan Farkauney: The newly wedded couple along with the groom's immediate family returns to the bride's family for a day after a couple of weeks of marriage to express their gratitude for the wedding ceremony.