Someone once said that Newari Wedding is like fat meat – it takes a long time to prepare but is delightful in the end.
And it turns out this isn’t so far from the truth. For most of us, the Newari wedding may seem like any other wedding in Hindu Culture. After all, a lot of Newars are a mix between Hindu and Buddhist.
And you are right- for the most part. While some aspects of a Newari wedding are indeed similar to any other Hindu wedding, there are a few things that are different as well.
Do you want to know what they are?
If you do, then please do read till the end and try to catch the things you did know.
1. Newari wedding takes around 1 month to complete
Did you know that the entire process of the Newari wedding takes around 1 month to complete? From the first step Gwe-Biye (ग्वे – बिये), till the last process named Bhaumachan Khan Lhaye (भौमाचा खं ल्हाये) the process is around one month.
Furthermore, on the day of the wedding, the Kanyadaan which is the last step of the marriage previously mentioned needs to be exactly or around midnight. While a lot of the marriage procedures have adjusted according to the busy lifestyle, this remains one of the few that is followed by a majority of people to this date.
2. Bride receives jewellery pieces containing beetle nuts
Bhaumacha Khan Lhaye (भौमाचा खं ल्हाये))
A bit more about this last step of the marriage. In this step of the marriage, the bride’s father-in-law gives the bride a pair of foot ornaments made from silver and some brocade pieces containing beetle nuts. She then wears the ornament and gives the betel nut to her close relatives as a sign that the hour of departure has arrived.
Her close ones weep after which during this process and the girl is brought out, put into doli where the father-in-law puts a brocade shawl on top of doli. The doli then proceeds to her friend’s house and the witty exchange takes palace from the local shrine between the priests where the bride’s father passes the responsibility of her daughter to the groom’s family.
While the name of this step translates to “daughter in law speaks” it has nothing to do with the bride speaking but rather is a metaphor for the weeping and comforting the bride at her friend’s house.
Side Note* A doli is a traditional means of conveyance that consists of two poles attached with a hammock. This is replaced by cars and taxis in modern times.
3) The unique process of Depah (देपः)
Depah (देपः) is a symbolic custom that happens in the process of Bhaumacha Khan Lhaye. In this custom, the soon-to-be father-in-Law gifts a Tutibagu (तुति बगु) (a type of bangle for the Leg) to the bride. Once this is done, the custom of Depah starts. Depah is a towel in which 12 pieces of areca nuts are kept along with a coin. The bride distributes these to the relatives with the support of her friend.
This act is a symbolic enactment that means that the bride will be secure in the hands of the groom’s family.
4. Gwe (गवे) (supari): Giving and accepting it means accepting the person from the bottom of your heart and giving them respect.
Gwe or beetle nut has a significant value in Newari weddings. The act of giving and accepting this seemingly simple nut has signified accepting the person from the bottom of your heart and giving them respect.
There is a ritual in a Newari wedding where 10 Beetle nuts are kept in a silver pot (called Lampicha/लम्पिच: in Newar) and sent to the girl’s house through the Lami (the ones who acts a messenger or middle man between two families) as a way of the daughter’s hand in marriage. If the girl’s family accepts this proposal, then the groom’s family sends a gift of seasonal fruits and peanuts to complete this process which is also known as Fusa Make Chhoye (फुसा म्एके छ्वे).
Along with this, after arriving at the groom’s house, the bride then gives 10 Gew’s to the groom’s family where they keep one and give the rest back as a sign of accepting and being accepted by the groom’s family.
5) Nyakhnu (न्याख्नु) and Sunah Mu (सुनाह मु): Tradiotional ornament passed down from mother to daughter.
These are the traditional ornaments that the bride inherits from the mother. Nyakha Mu is an ornamented brass or a bronze stand with a highly polished surface used as a mirror and Sunah Mu is a small brass or bronze stand that resembles a funnel with a circular design tapering towards the top.
Needless to say, these two items are not just used in the marriage but in fact, are used in a lot of traditional festivals. But the point here is these items are inherited from the mother by the bride during the marriage.
6) Gifts and Daijo: Instead of money, brass and bronze utensils and materials that would help the bride are accepted.
Daijo, also known as Kosah (कोसः)is rather popular in Newari Community and culture. While this may sound bad the concept behind the start of this tradition is rather understandable.
Kosha started because the parents were worried about the well-being of their daughter. As a result, they send some gifts for their daughter which later evolved to the thing we call Daijo. Now you should consider the fact that in past, money was not appreciated as a Daijo (दाइजो). The ones that were appreciated were bronze and brass utensils.
While the practice of kosha has reduced significantly in modern times, due to the concept behind the origin, it still is practiced to this day.
This same concept applies to wedding gifts as well. For the most part, money is not appreciated as a gift during weddings, Instead of money, brass and bronze utensils and materials that would help the bride are the ones in demand.
7) Lakhamari determines how much Daijo to give.
Yes, there is a method to determine kosha in a Newari wedding. Can you guess how it is determined?
It is through the use of a Lakhmari (लाख्मारी) – a hard bread covered with sugar. The bridal family is gifted Lakhmari by the groom’s family during the Gwe ceremony with close family members. The Lakhmari is broken in a cultural ceremony and the ones who get the bigger half of the Lakhmari have to gift something heavy to the bride. The gift should not be any lighter than a bronze Pitcher also known as Ken Gha (कें घ:) in the Newari language.
Some of these things might seem unusual for us and in hindsight they probably are. But at the same time, these are also the things that make the Newari Wedding unique. The concept or sweet determining “who gives the most Daijo” is definitely one of the unique aspects of a Newari.
The importance of beetle nut, along with the kind concept with which Kosha (Daijo) started in a Newari wedding are among some of the unique aspects of the Newari wedding as well and are among some of the things that you should know before attending any Newari wedding to get some context.
Hope you found this helpful. If you have any suggestions for us. Do let us know them down in the comments below. And as always, thank you for reading till the end.