A Chapthok/Adhikari Gaun wedding

27th March 2017

I cannot think of any occasion as special as a wedding – a time when friends and family come together to celebrate love and commitment. The team here in Chapthopk and I are very lucky and humbled to have experienced first hand just what a traditional Nepali wedding is like.

One night over dinner at my host home, I was eagerly conversing as usual with Surita, the daughter of my host mother and father, Bhimkala and Aok, in my broken Nepali and her broken English. To my absolute delight, she told me there was to be a wedding in the the village the next day at the house next door. After my initial wave of excitement, we continued our conversation, and answering my inquisitive questions, Bhimkala informed me the groom was from Adhikari Gaun, a 30 minute walk down the hill where NE2 are based. How my excitement grew!

Finding out exactly who the bride and groom were in relation to those villagers we know was a mammoth task and even after speaking with the main village Aama for 15 minutes I was still unsure! Host Country Volunteer, Krishna, explained that Nepali family trees are very complicated, so using the information we managed to glean from Aama, we settled on the understanding that the bride was her granddaughter.

The next day, the team were formally invited by Buwa, the village elder. Following a group discussion with Day Leader, Holly, the team decided to take a shorter lunch break to ensure we got enough working hours in at the building site before indulging in the wedding festivities.

Come 2.50pm the team swiftly packed away the tools and dashed back to the shelter, eagerly changing into the nicest clothes they had, ie. the ones not covered in mud! Super excited, Day Leader Harry called “Let’s go! let’s go!” and we all hurried out of the shelter, following in the direction of the booming music.

Alex and Krishna dancing
UK Volunteer Manager, Alex, right, tries out some Nepali dancing with Host Country Volunteer, Krishna

Funneling under a decorative arch made of pine we were welcomed into a swirling crowd of dancing and cheering. In such a frenzy it was comforting to see the familiar faces of our host families and beneficiaries calling us into the dance circle. Though a bit overwhelming at first, with the encouragement of all the guests, it wasn’t long before we were dancing away, throwing our hands and arms around in our best attempt at Nepali dancing.

Older generation dancing
Communications Officer, Lisa, learns some moves from the groom’s grandfather, Ganesh Man Shrestha, from Adhikari Gaun

As the music switched to a slower tempo it was the older generation’s time to shine and they took to the dance floor, showing off their traditional moves.

Eager to congratulate the bride and groom appropriately, we waited for our turn to greet and thank the young couple. Following Krishna and Host Country Volunteer Manager Birodh’s lead, we used both hands to gently rub red tika and rice mixture three times on the bride’s forehead and once each on the groom’s and the two bridesmaids’.

Volunteers enjoy the wedding feast.
Dinner is served! The volunteers enjoy the wedding feast

At this point I didn’t think the hosts could be more welcoming, until we were invited to a tarpaulin ‘marquee’ – the dining tent – on the terrace below. A long straw mat was rolled out on the ground and we were invited to sit on it while plates appeared, soon filled with lashing of rice, dal, vegetables, beans, chicken and roti from giant pots and overflowing buckets. We were quite the spectacle, as many of the guests became onlookers, laughing at our attempt to eat with our hands!

Taking a moment to enjoy the delicious food, the spectacular view and the generous hospitality of the families, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we all were to experience such a special local occasion.

Words: Alex
Photos: Cath, Meira and Lisa

What’s next?

28 March – 7 week programme Venturers depart. 10 week programme Venturers deploy to Phase 3: community

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Youth Economic Empowerment Nepal