Arrange This - Chitopani & Pokhara

My friend Tikka is tying the knot in true Nepali fashion, an arranged marriage. They annouced the wedding about three weeks before the actual date. Tikka, up to the wedding, had only seen his bride to be once and they haven't spoken to each other at all.

The wedding was on April 14th, the second day of the Nepali New Year, a very auspicious day. It started early. Devi, Tikka's cousin, Sarita, his sister, Aama, his mother and I started out from his home in Arvabijaya village at 6:30 in the morning. Chitopani is a two hour trek away and we didn't want to miss any of the festivities. We walked through the valley to the base of a mountain and then began the long arduous trek up to Tikka's birthplace and home, where his mother still lives. Tika is a modern man, living and working in Lakeside, so I was a bit surprised that he chose an arranged marriage. 


sacred fire surrounded by offerings

After an hour of climbing, we reached the top and went into the courtyard of his small home, which was so festively decorated. Outside, a small fire had been built and it was surrounded by numerous offerings, platters of food, leaf bowls of rice, scattered coins and colored powder decorated the ground in intricate patterns. All this was contained within a small tented area made by four bamboo poles and covered in flowers and lacy decorations. This sacred holy fire was also the site of the numerous rituals to follow. A traditional Nepali band played over on one side, drums, and strange high-pitched squeaky flutes.   

As people arrive, they are greeted with tikka, red colored powder mixed with rice and water to form a paste that is applied to your forehead. Then offered fruit and sweets, specially prepared only at weddings.

Here I am enjoying some.




The rituals begins with villagers from all over gathering to officially send Tikka off. This is done by every person placing a 'tikka' on his forehead and placing money in his 'tope' the traditional Nepali men's cap. The first to do so are the married women of his family. He then presents them each with a gift of cloth, most often a sari.

Here is Tika and his mother giving the traditional blessing to each other. She has just been given a sari.

The line of people can is quite long and when Tika is finally finished, almost his entire forehead is covered.






Finally, when Tikka has been blessed by everyone, he sets out with his entourage, basically all the men, boys and young, unmarried girls of his family and friends. All the married women however stay behind, dancing, singing and eating in joyful expectation of his return with his bride. 

The group headed back down the mountain, lead by the wedding band. We headed to the base of the mounatins where the vehicles Tika had rented were waiting.

The horns triumphantly announced our arrival at every village. 



There was a small van for the young ladies. The sign on the front grill reads 'Shuba Bibaha' - Happy Wedding! It was a more sedate choice of transportation.








There was a rented car reserved for Tika and his close male friends. It was festooned with streamers, flowers and of course, more tikka powder.




The men and boys and of course, myself, loaded into the bus, the rowdier choice. 





The top was reserved for the band and those who had worked themselves into marriage day frenzy. We took of down the street, and I watched in amazement, as people surfed the top of the bus, convulsing wildly to the frenetic music amid the hooting and hollering. We rode in this fashion, through the village site and on the road to Pokhara, taking the scenic route whenever possible to move as slowly as possible, but ever inextricably toward the bride's house.  

Devi atop the bus and enjoying the moment...

We arrived and unloaded, walking past a festively decorated house and a huge tent set up with chairs and a long table for food. But we shuffled past to the back of the house, where we passed by a similar setup of sacred fire and offerings en route to a open area where two chairs and a small coffee table was set up. Tikka took a seat, and henceforth, the wedding rituals commenced. 

Then the she appeared ...





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