Asia | Nepal – Sherpa wedding bliss…
It has been quite my wedding tour this trip hasnt it? Maybe I should write a wedding book, seen that allthough Ive got no first hand experience myself, I have seen my share of it this year: a traditional Thai wedding (well not entirely traditional as the groom was Dutch) in the North of Thailand, an international one (cant think of how else to call this: a Dutchmen marrying a half German/ half Spanish girl from Australia, the 2 having met in London and the festivities taking place in Madrid
) and an Out-of-Africa one in the bush
And today we were in for wedding number 4, a traditional Sherpa wedding celebrated deep into the mountains of Nepal.
Well, what can I say you could sum it up very shortly: the women are beautifully dressed, the man outdo each other with their Stetsons and Texas boots and both families outdo each other inviting everybody for food, drinks, more food, more drinks, still more food need I say more?
But this would certainly not do justice to the wonderful day we had: in a corner of the sparsely lit house of the groom, 2 Buddhist monks are reciting prayers and mantras since early morning, while everybody is seated around the room (on little benches, the occasional chair, but mostly on the ground with their legs folded under them) sipping yak butter tea and nibbling little cookies and fried dough. Luckily enough (youll see soon enough why) the yak butter tea here is slightly less nauseating here than in Tibet but gets filled up as easily as in Tibet!
Then its time for cha, the normal sweet tea with milk and sugar, with more cookies and more fried dough, before the first Sherpa stew comes around: a tasty broth with noodles, meat and god knows what else This is all accompanied by the number one wedding drink: home brewn chang, that arrives in huge tons (no kidding!). Next thing is some Johny Walker for the men, a beer or a coke.
Suddenly everything seems to come to life and everybody is scuttling around to get outside before the bride and groom get out a wonderful sight in the early morning sun, because all guests have come out in their most beautiful traditional outfits: the women with colourful embroidered furry hats, shiny striped aprons in an array of different colours and overloaded with Sherpa jewelry – the more corals and turquoise and special white/black stones they can show off, the better
But dont forget the men, who take special pride in their Stetsons, decorated with beautiful shiny feathers, their long sleeved coats that are worn Tibetan style, with one sleeve hanging loose and their shiny Texas boots. The Stetsons seem slightly out of place here, but have become an object of envy since 1905, when a British Everest expedition was wearing them on their approach trek to the peak of peaks
Then it is off into the mountains, walking in single file on the narrow mountain path from Lower Pangboche to Upper Pangboche, home of the family of the bride.
Another warm welcome to everyone, including the western guests and everybody sits down and is served their first cup of, oh migod, yak butter tea after which the same servings pass over the table, except its Dal Bhat this time instead of Sherpa Stew and theres no saying no anymore to the whiskey
After having had (more than) our fill, all benches and low tables are shoved aside and everybody gets in a line around the room and starts singing in low, enticing voices and dancing the traditional Sherpa dances, stamping and moving along the room they seem simple, but deceivingly so, which one only finds out trying After much merry making, an official exchange of prayer scarfs is begun, with the brides family putting scarfs around the heads of all the members of the grooms party and then the other way around
Off course, theres not only the parental home, so next thing we know, were changing house, going up a few doors, and start the whole thing once again And then onto the next house and the next, until we get back to the brides home and then slowly walking back to the grooms home down the mountain
By then, theres no way I can stuff anything more into my mouth, no food, no drinks. The only thing I want is going home and sleep and dream about this wonderful experience with these amazingly hospitable people