Marriage in rural Nepal 

Growing up as a village girl in Nepal and around most of the country, you never really know your fate and who you will spend the rest of your life with. It’s still custom in Nepal for arranged marriage. Last week, my bahini (little sister), aka nani (little girl) was married off. She’s 19 years old and still at college. This marriage was pretty much arranged by both parties uncles and before they knew it in 10 days they were at their wedding ceremony receiving tika and participating in all the sherades. 

I love this girl. She brightens up my day when I see her.

   So I’m somewhat sad that she’s now gone and will be living in another village with her new husband and his family. I was also upset to learn about this arranged marriage as I thought it will stop happening, and it won’t happen to anyone I know, and what if she ends up with a horrible family, what if he won’t love her… So many what ifs! 

Nonetheless, I went to help prepare the day before making sell roti and some other Nepali sweets. Women from surrounding villages came to help prepare as the bride started getting herself dolled up and designed with henna by her college friends. 

  
Photo making roti and other sweets. 

Excitement levels were high. At noon on the day of the wedding I headed down in my nicest kurta, new sandals and bangles. Her friends dressed me into the sari I borrowed from Niki and covered me with make up and plaited my hair. 

  
Walking down to the wedding with hostel girls 

  
Roshani, one of our hostel students and I 

 Photo by Robin Khatiwada

Rabindra, nani’s father, announced me his daughter … a sibling to his children. I was chuffed! As the new couple left the village the skies opened and it poured heavily after a very long and dry winter. I slept in the family shop with some other relatives and had breakfast with the family the next morning. My relationship with this family just became stronger. 

After one week she returned with her new husband and we managed to have tea together in the morning. I was somewhat concerned about where she’s living, is he nice, what’s his family like… She assured me that she’s fine. He seems like a guy with a good heart and the village and family or similar in many ways to hers. Nani, now a married woman, will continue college in damauli.

  
Leaving damauli to her new home 

What would I do if my dad just turned around to me and said that I’m getting married tomorrow to a complete stranger?! I always thought this was obscene and I would never accept an arranged marriage. But then again I remembered a conversation I had with an ex colleague on pre arranged marriages. “I get to know and love my wife more and more each day, I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else” he said. Whether I believe him or not (he also spoke about his ex girlfriend being the love of his life!) I guess this is fate in this world. And I’ve seen these marriages work and last long. Coming from a divorced family and a society which easily accepts this as the norm these days I wonder… Have love marriages become exceptionally weak with time? Are women becoming too independent that they won’t even try to make it work? Are men also giving up the idea of forever family life? Ke garne? 

Wishing my bahini and her husband a married life full of joy and love 

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