Explore Himalaya and Travel Directors Turn Wedding Planners
Envisage a Nepali traditional marriage involving paanche bajas(traditional wedding band),elephants, horses, palanquin and a Brahmin priest officiating over the wedding rites. Explore Himalaya has successfully planned and organized more then 10 such weddings for foreign couples. In Oct ’07 alone, EH helped organize the weddings of four Australian couples with great pomp and show. This nouvelle concept was borne out of the need to popularize Nepali culture among foreign tourists. Explore Himalaya, in partnership with an Australian travel company, Travel Directors, has been successful in planning mock marriages of more then ten couples. Here is a brief report on the October 2007 weddings.
Four Autumn Weddings
Swayamvar at Wunjala
The wedding ceremony kickstarted with the swayamvar ceremony at Wunjala restaurant, where its traditional and ethnic ambience proved to be ideal to hold the ceremony. Swayamvar is a kind of engagement ceremony, where the prospective bride and groom exchange rings and take the blessings of their families. The actual date for the marriage was declared during this ceremony and the guests gathered at the venue were invited to the wedding . The priest( a real Brahmin priest) began the ritual by applying red tika (mixture of red vermilion, rice and yogurt) on the prospective groom’s forehead. The priest handed over to the groom a garland made with dubo (an evergreen grass), topi (a Nepali traditional cap), a handkerchief, fruits, dry fish, palungo (Spinach) and perfume. Thereafter, he read out the Swayambar invitation card stating the date, time and the venue of marriage and then handed over the invitation card to the prospective groom. The groom as is expected of him, accepted the card and then applied tika on the guests’ foreheads and handed them dakchhina ( envelopes containing money).
Jaanti Arrival: Here comes the Groom’s Party
The Nepal Scouts National HQ served as the groom’s home for the wedding ceremony. After the bride and groom were decked up in Nepali traditional wedding finery, two rituals were performed, Chhapa and Saipata. After the completion of these rituals , the wedding party headed towards the Italian tratorria Nuovo Marcopolo, the bride’s home for the day. The groom mounted a decorated elephant(hired from the local zoo!) and made the 200 metres or so journey to the bride’s house, along with the jaanti (groom’s party). Lead by traditional musicians playing the drums and the paanche bajaas, the groom sitting atop the bedecked elephant, the jaanti proceeded royally to the bride’s home. Traffic came to a standstill and the commuters got busy taking photographs with their mobile phones. Even in Kathmandu, a traditional Nepali wedding has become a rarity .A sign of the fast changing times!
In the Presence of the Gods,the Bride and Groom Take their Vows
At Nuovo Marcopolo, the wedding couple participated in more rituals. A small pyre was lit up in the middle of the courtyard. The couple followed the priest’s instructions and took their wedding vows, which involved tying the lagangaantho(a white cloth tied around the groom and bride)and walking around the holy fire(agni) seven times. This is believed to tie the bride and the groom into a special bond of partnership, love, compassion and respect. This also symbolizes their responsibility and commitment to each other.As both the groom’s and the bride’s families play key roles during the wedding ceremony, professional artists from Royal Nepal Academy were assigned to play the roles of the groom’s and the bride’s parents. Kanyadan is a ritual of giving away the daughter to her husband. Reading out the names of three generations of the bride to the groom, the bride’s father expressed his consent to proceed with the wedding. The officiating priest chanted appropriate shlokas in Sanskrit.
After Kanyadaan, the couple visited the nearby Ganesh temple. The groom rode on a horse and the bride was carried on a doli (wooden palanquin) by four palanquin bearers. After their visit to the Ganesh temple, two other rituals followed ,Vitrayaune and Chultho pathi, at the Explore Himalaya premises.
During the Vitrayaune ceremony, the groom’s sister welcomed the couple with arati (lighted wicks soaked in oil or camphor) and tika. Arati is believed to usher in good fortune and luck into the home. The bride stepped into seven different piles of paddy during the chultho pathi ceremony. In Hindu religion, the seven places where piles of paddy are placed is believed to bring in positive energy into the home. With the chultho pathi, the wedding ceremony came to an end with a round of applause and good wishes pouring in from all, to the wedded couple. Along with the wedded couple, the party moved to Nuovo Marcopolo for the wedding banquet.
List of Oct Marriages Wedding date
1.Colin & Joan MacKenzie (Australia) 12th Oct’07
2. Anthony & Cheryl Metcalf (Australia) 17th Oct’07
3.John & Barbara Mills (Australia) 24th Oct’07
4.Keith & Janice Lokan(Australia) 31st Oct’07
All the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. They accommodated all requests to the best of their ability. The trek was a good level of difficulty for our students. Meals have been excellent, especially on the trek. Porters were extremely polite and helpful. Service was very good.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.