Thursday 7 March 2013

Newari Marriage

In a relationship with a fruit, sun and a man

"Newars," are the indigenous inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley, the capital of Nepal, They have their own origin, identity, culture, traditions and occupations. The castes and sub-castes have been divided hierarchically among Newars according to their profession from a traditional point of view. They have a unique way of performing rituals, arranging feasts, festivals, and functions which provide the nation with diverse cultural features.
A girl of a Newari community conducts marriage ceremony three times in her lifetime. The groom of her first marriage is a bel fruit (Aegle Marmelos) fruit, the second is the sun and the third is a man.
"Ihi," a marriage with a bel fruit, is considered to be the first marriage of a Newari girl.
The bel fruit marriage is done when the girl is seven to nine years old, or before she attains puberty. They also have the belief that the future husband of a girl would look similar to the bel fruit. If the fruit is bigger in size,  the groom will be fat and if it's small then the groom will be tall and good looking. Traditionally, they believe that the married bell fruit should be kept in a safe place and after this marriage, a girl is not allowed to eat the fruit for the rest of her life.

After ‘Ihi’, newari girls  have to perform the ritual called ‘Bhara’.Which is marriage with The SUN. Marrying the Sun is quite unbelievable in this modern scientific world. You might be puzzled of thinking that how  is it possible to marry a powerful fire. It is a traditional ritual for a Newari girl to marry the Sun.It is believed that the girl is protected by the sun from bad people and evil after this occasion.This traditional ritual is only for the girls of age between 12-14years who are kept in a dark room for twelve days . During these days, ”Bahra Khayak” (ghost) is made from cotton and worshipped . Girl’s aunt, marital uncle, father, mother, and grandmother are the most important people who have their own particular roles for completing this ritual. After twelve days, aunt brings the girl who will be blind folded out of the house; marital uncle puts the oil on girls hair; father and mother gives “sagun” which is an egg and curd and the grandmother ties the girl and the Sun as a husband and a wife.It is prohibited for the girl to come out of the room and she is not allowed to see males of the house.
The Newar marriage is completed after several stages of formalities. Arrange marriages are preffered rather than love. A father selects bride for his son and he appoints a mediator to carry on the negotiations from both sides groom and the bride. In the mean time the horoscopes of both the boy and girl are examined to see if they match well or not.This is where the complication starts. If both the parents and astrologer agree then a confirmation ceremony is organized with several presentations of gifts, sweets, areca nut (supari) and fruits which are sent to the Brides’s parents from the grooms’s parents. Then the date is fixed in consultation with the Astrologer.
 Before the day of actual marriage, the groom sends 10 areca nuts, box of sindur( vermilion powder),set of clothes and various gifts to the bride. The bride puts some vermilion powder on her head. She is treated like a princess by all the family members and relatives as it is nearly time to set her off to her inlaws . It is believed that girls are born to be given away and not kept with parents. And newari families value marriages more that any other occasions .
On the wedding day the bridegroom’s family organizes a procession. It mostly consists of Male relatives and friends of the family. After having been entertained with sweets, fruits Betel nuts, drinks and cigarettes they leave for the bride’s house preceded by a musical band. The bridegroom usually stays back at home except in few cases. Some people take the bride directly to the groom’s house. The bride is Welcomed at the main gate by the mother-in-law. She washes the bride’s feet with holy water, gives her the bunch of keys, and takes her inside the house.
 Inside, the priest completes the ritual invoking and offering food to various deities. Finally the bride distributes areca nuts to all members of the family including the groom. The ceremony ends with the bride and bridegroom eating the ritual food from the same Plate.
 In the evening a feast is organized where all invites enjoy the feast. The son-in-law of bridegroom's family serve the curd while the bridegroom’s mothers serve Wine and the groom serves desserts. The next day the new bride is formally received in the kitchen and a new member is accepted by the family.