The following article gives an overview of the wedding ceremony and marriage practice in Nepal.
Weddings in Nepal are momentous occasions which are often planned years in advance of the wedding itself. In line with other festivals in Nepal, weddings are colourful and beautiful events.
Traditionally, weddings in Nepal are arranged by the respective families. It is not uncommon for matches to be decided when the two individuals are still children. However, child marriages in Nepal – as with the majority of countries the rest of the world, are illegal and the couple therefore wait until adulthood to complete their marriage rites. Traditionally families in Nepal consider a number of factors before arranging the marriage. These factors may include caste (traditionally marriages do not happen across castes), religion, ethnicity and also the consideration of ties between families in an effort to build allegiances. It is important that arranged marriage and forced marriage in Nepal are not confused. It is not normal practice for families in Nepal who are arranging marriages to force their offspring to marry someone that they do not wish to marry. The offspring are also consulted and it is important that they consent to the marriage.
It is worth noting however, that there is a slow shift in Nepal away from arranged marriages to ‘love’ marriages i.e. individuals now have more freedom in Nepal to chose who they wish to marry without family interference. There is also a shift in Nepal towards marriage across castes (which traditionally was strongly resisted) and across ethnic groups.
Hindu weddings and marriages in Nepal are colourful occasions and travellers to Nepal may be fortunate enough to witness either the wedding itself or, at least to witness the wedding parties making the journey to the bride’s house. These journeys can sometimes take a number of days to complete due to the distance between the groom and bride’s home. Hindu marriages in Nepal are often arranged with the assistance of a priest, who analyses the horoscopes of the couple to ensure that they are compatible and they typically take place during the months of January or February.
Buddhist weddings in Nepal are often quieter occasions, with a focus on ceremonial displays. The weddings are usually extremely large, sometimes encompassing whole villages and large numbers of extended family.
Sherpa weddings and marriages differ to Hindu and Buddhist weddings quite considerably. Sometimes the marriage rites for the couple are completed years in advance of the actual wedding ceremony and consequently, the couple may even have their children attend the wedding!