Carina Ligthart, designer, entrepreneur and psychologist, receives the news that good friends are getting married. Great news and a perfect reason for a party! But the excitement grows stronger when they announce the wedding will be in Nepal.. Read her story.
"It was quiet for a couple minutes.. like our brain had to process the information. Some could barely breathe, while others were already at the summit of Mount Everest or meditating in a peaceful monastery. In any event, after a few seconds everybody screamed! Wow, we are going to Nepal!!"
"And so it happened, a year later the 10 of us were on our way. From Kathmandu we flew by private airplane directly to Pokhara, a small city and hideaway for tourists who want to explore the Himalaya or just escape the busy city of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital."
"After 3 days to get used to the food, the temperature, habits and time difference, we started our trek together with a guide, sherpas, some carriers and our crammed backpacks."
"The next 4 days were spent climbing through varied landscapes, with our hungry stomachs, sweaty bodies and sleeping in some rather filthy places. Especially the last was cause for concern; would I be able to appreciate this trip as a spoiled Westerner?"
"But all the beautiful things, like the stunning views along the way, the starry skies at night, the satisfying physical effort and lovely conversations were definitely worth it and enough to compensate for the small meals, the holes in the ground to be used as toilet and the wooden benches we slept on."
"During our lunch on the third day we had enough of taking our time: us Dutch love efficiency! We could walk to the finish in 1 day instead of 2, surely? The prospect of a clean bed and a huge plate of food plus a normal toilet unleashed an immense willpower which enabled us to descend in only 1 day. A good move, even if it caused 3 days of intense muscle pain afterwards."
"Having come this far, we wanted to enjoy Nepalese wedding culture to the fullest. With our hands and feet covered with henna decorations and wearing custom made saris for women and traditional suits for men, we were totally ready."
"Nepalese weddings are different from what we are used to in the Netherlands. Although a lot of ingredients are the same - the wedding cake, wedding dress, wedding rings, the ceremony and food & drinks - the taste is completely different."
"In the Nepalese tradition, you can only marry in certain months. An astrologist is consulted to select the perfect day. The ceremony is held in the open air under a completely decorated party tent, known as the Mandap. In the middle of the tent a sacred fire is burnt which the bride and groom have to walk around 7 times."
"The ceremony is led by a priest which usually lasts 5 hours, with rituals and special blessings. However, our Dutch friend informed us that the priest could only spare 2.5 hours. So this would be a quickie ;)"
"As guests we could join or just chat with the people at our table. In contrast to Dutch weddings, you could just walk around or escape the ceremony. At the moment of the ‘Puja’, friends, family and acquaintances can congratulate the wedding couple and wish them all the best."
"In Nepal the color of the wedding dress is not white, but red. The bride wears a lot of jewelry and becomes a jewel herself due to the many colored stones and golden decorations. The guests and venue are also very colorful, from the flowers to the saris to the wedding cake. The more color and jewelry the better."
"Both families exchange dowries afterwards. They even swap suitcases! Inside the suitcases lies new clothing and travel gear, as symbol for their new life and making a new start."
"At the end of the evening everybody danced. Although we Dutch like to party till the early hours, in Nepal it is common to head home around 7pm. Luckily the Dutch mentality was tolerated so we could dance until midnight, swinging to a mix of Nepalese and Dutch music. A perfect ending to an amazing day."