A joyous occasion, shared by many

Binay and Nikita, on their wedding day. February 14, 2017

Binay and Nikita, on their wedding day. February 14, 2017

With recent posts, you’ll have known I was in Bhaktapur, Nepal last week, attending Nikita and Binay’s wedding.  In the western world, this would have been one event, possibly two events if you count the hen night / stag night.  Not so in Nepal though.  It was a five-event extravaganza ….  but maybe extravaganza is the wrong word??

What it really was, was a celebration of love, family, friends and tradition that happened to be celebrated five times over the course of a week.

It all started 12 years ago when young Nikita and Binay fell in love and knew early on they were going to spend their lives together.  They just had to finish their education and get settled into their careers before getting married.  Fortunately both sets of parents agreed with this plan, arranged marriages are still how it’s done in Nepal, but there are more and more ‘love marriages’ in this newer generation.

I had the good fortune to have both Nikita and Binay, along with their classmate Rozina, as the first (of many) MBA interns who worked at SIRC.  Hiring business interns was a novel concept in 2013/2014 for SIRC, and I think for the MBA program too, where placing interns with small NGOs was not the done thing.  At the time, I bet there was a little disappointment amongst the interns that their 4-month internship was with a small unknown NGO called Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre, and not with a large bank or with a multinational such as Coca Cola.

The business interns (l) Nikita (m) Rozina and (r) Binay at SIRC in 2014

The business interns (l) Nikita (m) Rozina and (r) Binay at SIRC in 2014

As it turned out, these three interns got an experience of a lifetime, working on multiple fundraising events targeting the wealthy of Kathmandu, meeting many celebrities and well-known figures of Nepal, exposure to many influential donors and supporters from overseas, as well as coordinating Ram’s Wheelchair Yaatra – likely the first Nepal-wide SCI awareness campaign based on Canadian Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion tour.  It was a whirlwind of activity at the time but through all this hard work, a strong friendship was formed and endures today.

A great shot of Ram with his wife, surrounded by his colleagues from SIRC, at Namo Buddha just before the blessing ceremony

Ram at the Namobuddha Monastery just before he left on his 366km Wheelchair Yaatra from Namobuddha to Lumbini.  An inspiration to us all.  2014

It was about one month into the internship that I discovered Nikita and Binay were dating – so professional they were in the work environment.  I knew they would go far.  And they have.  Their work ethic is second to none, they are very smart young professionals and it is pure joy for me to see them so competent in their work.

Last Summer, I was asked to keep a secret.  Nikita and Binay were to marry in February 2017 and they were only telling us few westerners (and their families of course) so that we could plan to be in Nepal for this exciting celebration.  Dr Katrina and Cathy got their outfits all sorted in July 2016 and I got mine sorted before I left for Sri Lanka on October 1, 2016.  The event dates were set with the help of an astrologist and we all booked flights.  We were coming!

What struck me with this marriage celebration, is that it is a family affair.  Everyone, and I mean everyone stepped up to help out.  Wrapping of items for the puja ceremonies, cooking food for the hordes of visitors coming through the Kayasthas; front door, beauty preparations for the bride, the bridesmaid and the females in the extended family, running errands, looking after kids …. you name it, there was someone there to help out.  Not a complaint in sight, in fact a helping hand was given freely and easily.  I stepped in where I could – I cooked a few times as, let’s just say I am not known for my beauty regime prowess.

Dr Katrina, Cathy and I (the three westerners at the wedding) were embraced wholly by the family and we got to immerse ourselves in this happy time, like as if we were part of the family.

The Irish lassies with Sangeeta. From left Cathy, Dr Katrina, myself and Sangeeta

The matching Irish lassies with Sangeeta. From left Cathy, Dr Katrina, myself and Sangeeta

It was such a privilege to be so warmly enfolded into the family and to witness the importance of tradition in what is becoming a more modern world in Nepal.  It was an unforgettable time really.  A time I will cherish.  Something that will stay in my mind’s eye for a long time.  Subhaay (thank you in Newari).

And now a slideshow of the happy couple, their respective families and friends joining in their commitment to one another for the rest of their lives.

Bride’s Party slideshow

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Wedding Slideshow (I’ll do another post on the actual wedding ceremony – stay tuned)

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Groom’s Party Slideshow.  The bride does not get to see her family for two whole days so the Groom’s Party is a happy occasion for the bride as she reunites with her family, and receives lots of gifts.

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Much love and happiness for a long life together my friends!

Le gra (Gaeilge for With Love).

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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5 Responses to A joyous occasion, shared by many

  1. Mick Canning says:

    Superb. Best wishes to them both!

  2. LoadsofBirdies&Pars says:

    Fabulous Kate ! I cannot get over the spectrum of colour from the wedding.

  3. reidun says:

    What a incredible experience for you Kate. They sound like a wonderful couple. Wishing them all the very best in life and love.

  4. Pingback: 2017 – a year that was | Bowen to Bangladesh

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