March 6, 2012

Nimesh and Bhawana's Joyful Engagement Day

Monday, March 5, brought the first big event in Nimesh and Bhawana’s wedding-week festivities: the traditional Engagement Day, when the groom journeys from his house to the bride's for a special ring-exchanging ceremony.

I joined Nimesh and his family at their home as they prepared for the drive to Bhawana’s. Here's Nimesh with his brother Ritesh:

And here's an ugly duckling between two beautiful swans -- Nimesh's younger sister Sona and Ritesh's wife Salina. Sona studied for her nursing degree in Malaysia and completed it in Australia, where she's now working on her master's degree in health management. Ritesh and Salina were married last year -- another happy arranged marriage. Both have their degrees from the leading (only?) medical school in KTM. Salina got a scholarship for a master's degree from a Chinese university, where she and Ritesh are now studying.

I was moved and honored to learn I would ride with Nimesh in the caravan’s lead car. As we negotiated the typically chaotic traffic, I realized that today marked the 12th anniversary – exactly – of my first visit to Nepal. On that day, I could never have imagined that this country and its people would become such an important part of my life.

When Nimesh arrives at Bhawana’s, a marching band greets him:

Here, he’s greeted by his intended’s family:


The question of the day: how do the ladies manage in these heels?

I don't speak Nepali, and Nimesh's grandfather doesn't speak English, but we really hit it off. As our party walked up the road to Bhawana's house, he took my hand and we walked on hand-in-hand. And here we are still holding hands:
 

Remember the three tenors? Here are the three grandfathers -- Bhawana's grandfather on the left, Nimesh's on the right:

Nimesh has the stage to himself as he awaits Bhawana's arrival. Does he look happy or what?

One of many affectionate glances between the happy couple:

Nimesh gives the tika blessing to his bride-to-be:

The ring exchange -- highlight of this lovely ceremony:

I receive the tika blessing from Bhawana's grandfather:

Family photos are a must, just like in the U.S. Nimesh's family gathers on the stage:

Then, both families fill the stage:

After two hours in the spotlight, the happy couple smiles at the crowd. Now, on to that delicious dinner! 

Happy day! Stay tuned for the main event on Friday, March 9.
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