By Maki Nakamura, Partner
My friend in Nepal invited me to his wedding recently, and so I went to Kathmandu during the May holidays. This was my second time in Nepal, but the first time to attend a wedding. I heard that the weddings there last about a week with various events. I attended both the “wedding” and “reception” which were the later part of the series of events. I also had an opportunity to meet a social entrepreneur.
[Wedding in Nepal]
The wedding takes place all day, from the morning to the evening. I heard that Nepalese weddings vary in their customs according to ethnic groups and caste. At my friend’s wedding, first, many relatives of the bride came in the morning, and a while later, the groom and his relatives arrived with a music band. Then, the greetings by the bride’s relatives, which included dousing the bride and groom’s feet with water and putting tika on their foreheads as a blessing, continued on. Because there were about 200 relatives on the bride’s side, the morning went by very quickly.
The religious ceremony continued in the afternoon. There was no master of the ceremony and at the beginning, I was unsure of what to do as a guest. I asked and found out that the guests just hang out while eating and drinking, so I spent time chatting with my friends and going to see the ceremony once in a while. The highest point of the event was the farewell of the bride and her family, and the bride’s eyes were full of tears. There are similar scenes in Japanese weddings, but instead of seeing off a smiling couple, the bride left the party still crying accompanied by the groom. Because I was the groom’s guest, I followed the ceremony to his house. It was a ceremony to welcome the bride to the house. There was a buffet-style party that evening and the bride finally showed her smile. Receiving blessings from everyone, she looked truly happy and beautiful.
The reception the next day, organized by the groom’s family, took place in the outdoor party venue. There must have been 700 to 800 guests. A DJ played loud Bollywood dance music, and everyone was having fun eating, drinking and dancing. The bride, groom and their parents joined the dance at the end with a lot of cheer. As it turned out, another reception organized by the bride’s family would take place the next day, and that completed the series of events.
[Visiting a Social Entrepreneur]
Having some time before the wedding, I made an appointment to see an entrepreneur in Nepal. The person I met was Ms. Lily Thapa, one of the Ashoka Fellows introduced in the official book of Ashoka, “Rippling.” Lily is the creator of an organization called Women for Human Rights, endeavoring to empower Nepalese widows. Becoming a widow herself when she was young, and experiencing how the widows in her country were discriminated and excluded from society, she stood up. She is a change-maker who organizes women’s groups locally and works to empower them in their own community (currently 1,500 groups exist), as well as acts as an advocacy and actualizes the changes in the law to promote women’s rights. Her current agenda is to nurture next leaders. I was charmed by the way she talked about her past experiences and future expectations, and became an avid supporter.
Celebrating my friend’s happy beginning and meeting a wonderful social entrepreneur, I had a very fulfilling stay in Kathmandu.