Do changing Nepali wedding practices indicate acculturation?

Published On: January 13, 2023 10:00 AM NPT By: Aesha Bajracharya

KATHMANDU, Jan 13: Nepal being a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual nation, there are distinct wedding rituals and practices of various communities in the country. Being a micro social construct, marriage is one of the foremost auspicious events in anyone’s life. So, traditionally, people have been observing different special rituals and practices to make weddings memorable as well as socially acceptable. In the past, people celebrated every moment of marriage in their own houses with their loved ones, observing rituals such as Supadi khelauney, Nanimukhi, Kasar Batar, Samdi Vetgat and so on. 

But of late, foreign wedding rituals and practices such as Haldi, Mehendi, cake cutting, Sangeet, pre and post photoshoots, bachelorette, cock-tail parties, pool parties and other ceremonies have found in-roads into Nepali weddings which are increasingly being held in party palaces and banquets. Overall, these days wedding practices in Nepal are heavily influenced by Indian and western cultures which has raised a question if our own culture and tradition is slowly disappearing in the mist of acculturation.

 “I don’t know how marriages are performed in the true essence of Nepali culture. I can only remember the promotion of Indian and other cultures in every marriage. In today’s society, a marriage is more about commercialization than the union of two people,” said a student of social science on the condition of anonymity. 

Shankar Gyawali, a communication consultant, said, “The changing pattern in marriage rituals and practices in the country is influenced by user-generated content. Today, the media, teleserials, and movies are influenced by the western and Indian cultures. All this has an influence on Nepali weddings, with people wanting to make their weddings more interesting and stylish.” 

According to Shweta Pradhan, executive director of Clover Wedding & Event Planner, nowadays people want their weddings to be different from those of others and make beautiful memories for life. She informed Republica that the haldi, mehendi, sangeet and other ceremonies were part of Nepali society. “However, they would not be celebrated in a grand way in the past. But today, people want to celebrate each and every moment in a grand way. In the past people were unknown about wedding and event planners but nowadays due to  the influence of globalization and social media people from various castes and ethnic backgrounds hire such professionals according to their needs,” she said. She further added that in today’s Nepal, the people who return from abroad have been witnessed to hire event planners due to which event management companies are grooming and it has brought opportunities in the Nepali market. “However, authentic Nepali wedding rituals can be promoted globally through the use of social media,” she said. 

According to the CEO of Nepal Decors and Flower, John Budathoki, the change in wedding rituals and practices have boosted some businesses but it is uncertain as weddings in Nepal are carried out on a seasonal basis. “They have to hire skilled manpower from India as Nepal lacks the same,” he said, “Mainly in the winter season, they have to import flowers from India and other countries on a large scale due to lack of technologies which maintain moisture in flowers.” 

“Everyone wants to make their wedding grand. But the ground reality is only selective people can afford it. But our human nature is imitative. People forcefully without any desire have to show and gain their status in society through fancy wedding practices,” said Mohd Ayub, a researcher. 

Tika Kaini, assistant professor of Anthropology at Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, said, “ The attention-grabbing attitude and consumerism have led us to copy and add new practices as a so-called symbol of upliftment of status, modernity and differences in the existing wedding practices.” He added that the people who have interest and can afford to elaborate celebrations and add newness to perform differently while others who don’t prefer aren’t seen doing it in the same  way.

“As Nepal becomes more interconnected with the rest of the world, and as more Nepali people travel abroad and interact with other cultures, they adopt new ideas and practices related to weddings. Some call it cultural diffusion, some modernity and some acculturation,” said Binay Mishra Ph.d, Senior Program Coordinator at National College.  

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