We spent the day on a drive into the countryside outside Kathmandu. We first visited the village where the Thapa family has its roots, and where Nimesh spent his first seven years before the family moved to Kathmandu. Then we went for lunch at Dhulikhel -- which competes with Nagarkot, another hill town, for being the best place in the KTM valley to get a view of the snow-capped Himalayas. I've been to each town several times, even getting up at dawn, supposedly the best time of day to catch a mountain view. I've yet to see a mountain from either place.
But seeing Nimesh and Bhawana's solid, loving relationship was more enjoyable to me than any mountain view.
A Modernized Nepali Arranged Marriage
Today, arranged marriages are common in South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and, to a lesser extent, East Asia. Arranged marriage practices vary greatly among the different cultures. Some are "introduction only" arrangements, in which the parents (or other match-makers) simply introduce the potential couple... and let the two young people take it from there. In other cultures, the bride and groom never meet until their wedding day.
The Nimesh/Bhawana arranged marriage falls between these extremes. Nimesh's parents, having decided it was time for him to marry, began the search for a suitable bride. They talked with friends and acquaintances about suitable prospects. Factors considered in Nepali arranged marriages include:
- Same Hindu religion and similar spiritual beliefs.
- Same caste. Although caste prejudices are fading, particularly in the cities, it is still important for bride and groom to be from the same caste.
- Reputation of the families.
- Similar economic status.
- Similar vocations (Nimesh and Bhawana both recently got their MBA/Finance degrees -- Nimesh from American University here in Washington, and Bhawana from a university near Bombay).
- Age and physical fitness.
- Horoscope. Numerology and the position of the stars at the births of bride and groom are used to predict the success of the match. Astrologers gave a very high rating to this match. However, although Nimesh and Bhawana would have preferred an April or May wedding, the astrologers decided that no auspicious dates were available for a wedding in those months this year, because of a lunar eclipse. The only good dates in the first half of this year were either in March or late June. Nimesh and Bhawana decided that earlier was better.