Marriage is regarded as an institution and its origin dates as far back as 4,350 years ago. The first evidence of a ceremony that formally arranged a union between a man and a woman, was found by anthropologists in Mesopotamia; estimated to have taken place in 2350 BC.
Earlier discoveries showed that back then, marriage had nothing to do with religion or love. It was more of a system developed to divide into smaller units, loosely organized groups of 30 or so members that included women and children. It is quite interesting, therefore that in different parts of the world, such unions had evolved into an institution called marriage. The rites and celebration of which, can be largely influenced by love or religion or both.
In Nepal, in which most members of the population practice either Hinduism or Buddhism as religion, marriage rituals largely depend on the beliefs of the couple being formally united. Regardless of faith, Nepali marriages are founded on the conviction that a union made under traditional rites will lead to success and happiness that will last a lifetime. Both religions emphasize the importance of mutual respect, whilst discouraging married couples from entertaining thoughts of breaking up their marriage.
In comparison to countries where the people are not so religious, like in the Netherlands, love is the main reason why Dutch men and women marry. The customary practices in traditional Dutch weddings in Netherland are more focused on strengthening the romance that binds the wedding couple. Dutch weddings are a celebration of a successful courtship leading to a happy marriage and a fruitful future.
Differences between Nepali and Dutch Traditional Marriages
First off, Nepal marital laws allow child marriages. Many young girls in Nepal become brides before they reach the age of 15. According to popular opinions, the reasons why child brides are common in Nepal include poverty, gender inequality, arranged marriages as a family practice, or even adolescent love.
On the other hand, the Dutch government does not encourage forced marriages. Eligible Dutch citizens who are at least 18 years of age can marry anyone they choose, including a member of the same gender or a foreign national. The most important requirement is that at least one of the marrying couples is a Dutch citizen.
Traditional Hindu marriage rites in Nepal begins with a “puja,” which is a daily prayer ritual performed by both bride and groom days before and up to the actual day of the wedding ceremony. Traditional pre-wedding practices in the Netherlands, are mostly parties for different sets of guests; including a visit to the bride’s house to eat traditional sweetmeat and drink spiced wine with the bride’s family.
Another interesting difference between Nepal and Netherlands traditional marriages is the customary wedding walk. In Nepal, the groom and bride in a Hindu marriage will have to walk around a fire while performing other activities suggested by the officiating priest. Whereas in the Netherlands, the bride and her groom walk on a bed of flowers on their way to the altar.
Still, traditional marriages in Nepal and Netherlands share similar elements with other countries. Flowers especially marigolds, and blinking lights, are the main adornments of a Nepali wedding venue.
Since the Netherlands is a country famed for its abundance of colourful flowers, it is but natural for traditional Dutch wedding organizers to bedeck venues with flowers, particularly tulips. Although not counted as a customary wedding decor, most Dutch couples nowadays, rent light letters (lichtletters huren) to symbolize and highlight their love for each other.