Where We Be
Young girls await their marriage to Vishnu. The wedding ceremony takes place over two whole days.
Panauti & Dhulikel, Nepal
This is the quaint temple town of Panauti, untouristed and serene. The wedding ceremony we witnessed happened across the river near the two white-topped temples.
This lovely temple sits at the edge of steps leading down to the river (very low at this pre-monsoon time of year)
This is Panauti’s largest and most famous temple, the Indreshwar Mahadev Temple. The propitious location of
this magnificent temple between two important rivers makes it extremely important to Hindus as a pilgrimage site.
We climbed a steep hill to visit a temple at the top and got good views looking down on Panauti
Each girl holds an offering plate which she presents at one of the temples dedicated to Vishnu
This adorable girl is not getting married yet but her sister is. She clings to her mom's leg at the odd sight of us.
We got a lot of curious glances that day since we were just about the only Western tourists in town.
This pretty young girl is fully decked out for her wedding. We met her and
her family through our guide, a young teenager who is part of the same family.
We don't have many pictures from Dhulikel because the only real reason for tourists to go there is for the views
of the Himalaya range, which were nonexistent through the clouds and haze at this time of year. Still, we dutifully
hiked to the Kali Temple at the top of the hill and saw -- just about nothing. Good morning exercise though!
This little tile showing two feet, set at the base of the stairs
in Dhulikel, seems like a fitting end to our last hike in Nepal
In the small town of Panauti, located southwest of
Kathmandu, we witnessed what was undoubtedly
the most unusual wedding ceremony we’ll ever
see. The participants were all young girls between
the ages of 4 and 11. They were dressed in elegant
red-and-gold gowns, glitzy jewelry, eyeliner, and
makeup. It turns out we had stumbled on an annual
ceremony of great importance to the local Newari.

As we watched from a balcony window, a local man
was kind enough to explain to us what we were
seeing. He told us that each and every Newari girl
gets married three times in her life. First she weds
the sun. This involves spending seven days in a
dark room with no toilet facilities except a pot (the
older tradition used to call for 21 days!) before the
wedding ceremony can take place. Her second
wedding (the one we were witnessing) is to the
Hindu god Vishnu. The girl “marries” a piece of
fruit carried in her hands representative of the
mighty god. Her third wedding is to a human male.

Here's the kicker. We were told you CANNOT marry
a human male if you have not performed the first
two ceremonies, so essentially every Newari girl
takes part. Each girl goes through the first two
wedding ceremonies only once in her life. She
must be pre-menstrual, for during this period
(bad pun?) she is considered goddess-like.
The village priest performs offering rituals at the wedding ceremony. We watched him light a small fire then throw rice into the flames as he chanted from a book.
The girls line up around the square, ready to make an offering. Moms hold umbrellas to ward off the sun.
The wedding ceremony to Vishnu has been part of Newari culture for over 1000 years.