Day 44: Kathmandu
After some light family argument over the exact order of things, the ceremony continues, in strictly hierarchical fashion, with the five brothers, and then the children, kissing the feet of their elders and giving each other the male tika, made from a preparation of curd, rice and vermillion powder. Jamara, shoots of barley, are placed on the head or in a garland around the neck as a symbol of fertility and longevity.
As an outsider I'm struck by how seriously all this is taken. Pratima's brothers-in-law are hard-nosed, professional people, one a doctor, one a banker, two others in the army. They're dressed in the labada salwar, a knee-length tunic, with tight leggings and black leather shoes, but over it they wear a Western-style sports jacket.
Many of them have been educated in Britain or America, their children speak fluent English and go to private schools. Yet here they are taking part in an ancient and rural ritual with a thoroughness that one can't imagine among their counterparts in the West.
The first thing to remember, says Pratima, is that not only is Hinduism the religion of 90 per cent of Nepal, the Nepalis take pride in being more scrupulous in their observance of festivals. The Indians, she says, have shortened their ceremonies.
'We take three days to get married. They do it in a day!'
Choose another day from Himalaya
- Series: Himalaya
- Chapter: Day 44: Kathmandu
- Country/sea: Nepal
- Place: Kathmandu
- Book page no: 99
Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.