It is a season of love and marriage in Tsirang. Couples are tying their knots in elaborate wedding ceremonies. Every nook and corner of Tsirang is echoing with the sound of jubilation.
The wedding ceremony is a grand and elaborate affair in the southern Dzongkhags. For a couple to begin a new life, it is mandatory to undergo the wedding ceremony. The wedding celebrations begin days before the actual wedding day and go on for weeks. Several pre-wedding ceremonies take place before the actual wedding day.
The pre-wedding rituals are traditional customs that are considered to be auspicious for the wedding and the married life of the would-be couple. It is also a way to mentally and emotionally prepare the bride, groom and their families for the marriage. The pre-wedding rituals take place both at the bride and the groom’s place.
Today, Nar Bahadur Pradhan is going to the bride’s home, to officially seek permission to marry her. “I am happy because I am going to get my wife. I feel nervous at the same time fearing that I might miss something do during the wedding ceremony,” says the nervy groom.
On the other side, Dik Maya Pradhan, is preparing the biggest day of her life. She says she feels sad to leave her parents behind. “So far I have been living with my parents.”
The actual wedding ceremony takes place at the bride’s place. The wedding ceremonies mostly happen in the night. But it differs according to location and caste.
The couple ties their knot officially in front of many people. Family members, relatives and neighbours gather for the ceremony and rejoice throughout the night.
A short ceremony is held in the morning, before the groom takes away the bride. This ceremony is usually an emotional ceremony for the bride and her parents. The ceremony marks the end of bride’s stay with her parents to start a new life with the groom’s parents.
“I feel unhappy to give my daughter to someone. But it’s our tradition that we should sent our daughters to her husband’s home. Our ancestors have been following the tradition. So am trying to be strong and happily send her with her husband,” says Gita Maya Pradhan, the bride’s mother.
It is a tradition for the bride to leave her house and live with the husband’s family. Only if there is no male child in the bride’s family, then the groom will live with the bride’s family.
The ceremony is held mostly in the keeping with the tradition.
But the tradition is undergoing change with time.
For example, in a traditional marriage ceremony, the bride and the groom have no choice of their own. The weddings are arranged by their families and are bound to accept their parent’s choice. The marriage was also held at a very young age.
“Previously, we were married against our will by our parents. Before that marriage took place as early as seven years old,” says Lachi Maya Pradhan.
According to Kasi Nath, there were more divorce cases because people were forced to marry very early. “I got married at the age of eleven years old.”
But today, marriage is about choice. Arranged marriages are rarely happening. The boy or the girl can choose their own partners and propose their parents for the wedding ceremony. If their parents deny their proposal, they elope, after which most of their parents accept their relationship.
It is mandatory for relatives living in other parts of the country to come and participate in the wedding. It is also customary for those living outside their village to come and get married in their village.
“We have to come and attend the wedding ceremony. The bride is related me so I came from Thimphu to attend her wedding. We come and help them,” says Laxmi Narayan Pradhan.
People, both young and old, attend the wedding ceremony. For the younger ones it is a reminder that they have to undergo such ceremonies in the future. For the old ones, it is a time to reflect how successful their married life has been. It not just a ceremony for a couple to come together and start a new life but also a rare opportunity for the family members, relatives, friends and neighbours to get together.