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.
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.
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.
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
Wedding Slideshow (I’ll do another post on the actual wedding ceremony – stay tuned)
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.
Much love and happiness for a long life together my friends!
Le gra (Gaeilge for With Love).