A Tale of Two Weddings

We have been helping our daughter and her fiancé to arrange their wedding. It’s a little complicated as it will stretch over the course of a week in the summer with two ceremonies in two different counties. One in the UK and one in Switzerland, as her fiancé is from there. The biggest problem has been the guest list. Who to invite to what? Who of our family will go to Vevey and who will come to the ceremony in London? We’re a bit tight for space in London, so numbers are limited, which has caused quite a bit of arranging and rearranging and not a little angst!

Our juggling with numbers on the guest list contrasts sharply with the approach to weddings here in Nepal. There’s no such thing as a guest list as such, as everyone is invited! Recently, we were invited to the wedding of a sister of a work colleague. We know neither the bride nor the groom, but that doesn’t matter as there’s an open invitation to anyone from the office. The wedding in question is a Christian one but it’s the same at Hindu weddings too: everyone’s invited! Over the years we have been invited to the weddings of many people we don’t know but who are relatives of friends from work or church. Often too, it’s not just an open invitation by word of mouth, such as, “You can come along if you like,” but we get a full formal written invitation, even from people we don’t know.

Christian weddings start with a church service, which is followed by the wedding ‘bhoj’ (feast). Usually family and friends attend the service but everyone comes for the bhoj, which consists of a buffet-style meal with an unending supply of rice and various vegetable and meat curries. There is a constant stream of guests at the table and the people preparing the food are continuously busy for several hours until the last guests have gone and no one wants any more food.

Hindu wedding ceremonies are usually only attended by close family and friends with everyone else attending the bhoj. We’ve even been to weddings where, not only did we not know the bride or groom, but we didn’t even see them! They were involved in a part of the ceremony or even hadn’t arrived yet! But no matter – sit and chat to friends, enjoy the bhoj and then leave! It’s perfectly OK and even expected.

Safe to say we’re not going to try that approach in London or Vevey!

 

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A Wedding Bhoj