wedding whirlwind tour

I just got back to Nepal after a whirlwind two-week trip back to the US for my brother’s wedding.  The 80+ hours spent in airplanes and airports was well worth the fabulous visit with my friends in San Francisco and the wonderful family time and wedding celebrations in Virginia.

In the spirit of my brother’s wedding, I thought I would do a post about weddings—both American and Nepali.  I am definitely more of an expert on American weddings (I guess I am at the age where everyone I know is getting married—I should be the star of the sequel to the movie 27 Dresses), but I will do my best to show to the similarities and differences based on my experiences as a guest at both.

Back in December I was able to go to a good friend’s cousin’s wedding here in Nepal.  His family is Newar, which is an ethnic group here in Nepal that is mainly in the Kathmandu Valley.  Weddings in Nepal are celebrated over several days with different ceremonies and parties.  This is similar in America if you add up all the events leading up to the wedding, but in general, people see the wedding celebration as the one big day.

Much like in America, family members and close friends are in attendance at Nepali weddings, but unlike in America, the guest list is not as strict and friends of friends of friends are often times in the crowd as well.  I guess that explains how I was able to go to a wedding of someone I have never met before!

At the wedding in Nepal, I only attended one of the celebration events; whereas, for my brother’s wedding I was able to attend all of the events leading up to the big day; including the bachelorette party, bbq at my parent’s house and the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner.

Hawaiian themed bbq at my parents house

I can’t say what all weddings in Nepal are like, but at this particular one, it almost felt like I was in a crowd of paparazzi.  The small room was crammed with as many people that could fit; everyone standing on chairs so they could see, with a camera in hand.

the Nepali wedding paparazzi

The guests at my brother’s wedding were a bit more organized (sitting in a large church with pews probably makes that easier) but after the wedding everyone crowded outside to watch the bride and groom exit (our version of the “paparazzi”).

the American wedding paparazzi

At my brother’s wedding, we had only one videographer (which the position was kindly filled by my friend and “date” for the day, Megan), but at the wedding in Kathmandu, there were at least 3.

the many videographers

Of course, one of the things I love about weddings is the fashion—which of course is different in both countries.

The dress (both in everyday life and at weddings) is the most similar between the two countries for men.  At the Nepali wedding his suit had the added the flair of a wedding topi (hat) and ceremonial pieces.  Of course when it comes to the bride, there lies the most differences.  In Nepal, the traditional wedding color for women is red.  The bride had similar ceremonial accessories as well as glass bangles and the traditional wedding beads.

 At my brother’s wedding, he wore a tradional tux, which was accented by a flower boutineer.  As we all know, the wedding color for brides in America is white and traditionally a veil is worn and a bouquet is carried.   My sister-in-law went for simple and elegant pearls as her jewelry.

At both weddings, family participated in the event.

In Nepal, they participated by making offerings and participating in the rituals.

And at my brother’s wedding, we were half the wedding party (bridesmaids, junior bridesmaid, flower girl, groomsmen, ushers, ring bearers, singer).

In both countries, weddings come down to this:

Celebrating with family and loved ones (and of course, getting to wear beautiful clothes while you do it).

still alive!

I am in fact still alive.  With the holidays, being sick and a bit of traveling life has been somewhat hectic and posts have not been pouring out of me.  Hopefully, this coming week I will be back to providing you with some interesting reads….or atleast interesting photos to look at.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that your New Year is off to a great start…

inspiration at Pashupati

While my parents were here, we spent part of a day at the Pashupatinath Temple (also known as Pashupati) on the banks of the Bagmati river.

Pashupati is a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva (one of the largest) on the outskirts of Kathmandu.  This is the most important shrine for Hindus in Nepal and only Hindus can enter the actual temple (specifically—you have to be a Hindu born in India or Nepal).  For those that are not Hindu, you can see it from across the river.

Since this is the most sacred of the temples in Nepal, this is where most Hindus in Kathmandu are cremated when they die.  Within a certain amount of time after their death, bodies must be cremated, which means there is constantly activity here, day and night.

There were a few cremations going on while we were there visiting, though I tried not to make them the focus of my photos on here out of respect.  I found that surrounding the temple were really wonderful things to photograph: the people, the flower garlands, the sadhus, etc.  I spent some time playing with the settings on my camera and got some really great inspirational shots.

Check out my photos below and you can also read more about Pashupati here.

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photos (c) Bethany Meuleners