It sometimes forgotten that Bud,dhism the dominant religion in Nepal is a reformed off shoot of Hinduism. In Nepal the two live happily side by side and share each others festivals and customs. It is one of the reasons that Nepal has more observed relegious festivals than any other country. Even the almost non existent Muslims get their days off. So its hardly surprising that just as the Hindus find the end of the year the most auspicious time according to the stars and the moon for weddings ,so do the Sherpas. In my last week I went to one and observed two others. Like Hindu weddings, Sherpa nuptials take place over a few days. First the groom’s party set off in silks with a medieval three piece band to the bride’s village. This is often the first time the two have set eyes on each other. The bride suitably attired in fur hat, silk dress and gold jewellery is then escorted back to the groom’s village. I had climbed to the top of the pass and there was a groom’s party slurping back the hooch and generally having a good time. By the time I made my descent they had gone. But I soon came across them. All drunk and asleeep in a field ,in their finery and dead to the world. Absolutely priceless.
Later they awoke and one heard the sound of symbols as they clashed their way down the valley to complete the ten hour walk back to the groom’s village. These are still villages which are only connected by footpaths.
The first wedding I went to was a grand affair. The local manager of the highly thought off (totally tasteless)cheese factory was marrying off his rather weedy son. The bride was easily the most unhappy person there. She knew no one ,least of all her husband. yet she stood by the great pots of rice vegetables chicken,more vegetables and chiles(quality -think school dinners c1960),all the while ratsi(14%) was being served in kettles and of course as in all weddings(!) there were those who drank too much too early.
The day was finished up with the kind of dancing where the sturdy mamas in their traditional striped aprons and one or two of the drunken bucks shuffle around (like prisoners in an exercise yard)and occasionally put their arms in the air.
At this this year’s affair the couple seemed to actually like each other and enjoy the occasion The bride much taller and not wearing all the kit-the families were not so rich-was seen to smile . It was rumoured that they may have been an element of love in this match. Part of the event is when the guests not only present the couple with silk scarves-which are given out on nearly every occasion but are give money. This is noted in a book and the idea is that whatever you give will be topped when they come to your family’s wedding. My contacts reckoned that the couple would pick up around £500 from the 200 guests . Just a little less than a teacher earns in a year. I gave a fivver,Adelaide is made.