In the past year, I’ve been to three weddings. Two were for for my darling girls and two took place within three weeks. The contrast between these latest two, one in Australia and one in Nepal, was huge. My daughters’ weddings were relatively small, joyful events which were times of celebration and connection. I was often asked how I was coping with the stress of being mother of the bride and I had to answer truthfully. There was none. No stress. These girls were their usual delightful selves throughout the whole process. I think they had taken to heart their father’s oft repeated observation that sometimes the length of a marriage is inversely proportional to the elaborateness of wedding preparations.
Also, they had managed to find delightful blokes to marry without me having to arrange it! In Nepal, the majority of marriages are still most definitely arranged. There is a degree to which a young person can vet a parent’s choice but, especially if you are a woman, too many knock backs and you are in trouble. And if you are a woman whose engagement is broken (for whatever reason)…well, there go your prospects for marriage. It was good that this was not the case in Australia 31 or so years ago.
A Nepali wedding is a horse of a different colour entirely. Some observations:
1. Three days of a wedding is verging on too much of a good thing. And I only went in the afternoon/ evenings.
2. The women really know how to dress for a wedding. It was feast of colour and spangles. Magnificent. And, for all shapes and sizes and ages, saris truly have to be among the most flattering garments on this earth.
3. A Nepali wedding car is a joy to see. Real flowers and led by a group of joyously dancing female relatives
5. Dancing in pre monsoonal Nepal is akin to Bikram yoga. Except that you may be wearing a sari or velvet and jewel encrusted fabric.
6. An Australian woman of a certain age dancing enthusiastically at a Nepali wedding brings great joy to many. One small sweaty action can bring mirth and delight and result in more dancing invitations than age and temperature allowed. (Bring on those Canberra Bollywood dancing classes!!)
7. Many of the rituals centre around welcoming the new daughter in law into the matrimonial home. She is required to serve the large extended family a meal and then has ceremonial introductions to the storerooms, the kitchen equipment (like the grinding stone) and the family mandir (temple) where her regular worship will ensure the sustained good fortune of the family. To a considerable extent, much of her happiness depends not on her husband (who may head off to Kuwait as a labourer although not in this case) but her mother in law.
8. It was a joy and privilege to be a part of all these weddings but especially the ones at home! And clearly, I am wildly biased!
PS I haven’t got good enough connection to upload my little video to You Tube but will do soon!!