Before I get any smart comments, some of you may say, yes I am! But Mark aside, it’s true: last night I went to celebrate a wedding party where the bride is 5 years old and the groom is a piece of fruit. Not just any fruit, a bael fruit (common name golden apple or Bengal quince). The slightly (very?) strange tradition, known as bael byah, is a common ritual among the Newari people of Nepal. It came about to actively prevent child marriage which is common among some other cultures. The ritual usually takes place between the ages to 4 to 9 as it should be before puberty and the symbolic marriage with a bael fruit, which represents the god lord Shiva, will last until the girl is in her late teens/early twenties and thus old enough to marry someone she can presumably have a bit more of an interactive relationship with. The ceremony takes place in the temple with lots of girls taking it at the same time (I guess a bit like communion) and they dress up in proper miniature wedding dresses! The party/wedding reception part which I went to last night, interestingly was almost exactly the same as the wedding party we went to in December – same venue, same format to the evening.
Mark headed off on trek number 4 yesterday so get ready for his next installment which will no doubt be towards the end of next week.