Jesse and Jane, two volunteers that I met in Kathmandu, are working in an orphanage in Old Pokhara A couple of days ago, I met up with them and they showed me around their part of town. To give you a feel for where we were, I did not see one white person the entire day with the exception of my friends. We went to the local markets where they sold food, clothes, kitchenware, electronics, and almost everything imaginable on tables lining the side of the streets. We ate Nepali fast food, where for 30 cents some street vendor filled my plate with God knows what and it filled me up. And we watched a Newari wedding where a twelve year old girl was marrying the sun.
In the Newari culture, a girl has three weddings in her life. When she is twelve she marries the sun, when she is fifteen she marries a flower, and then eventually she marries a man. For the first wedding, the young girl is locked in a dark room for two weeks and is not allowed to come out. She can only eat and go to the bathroom at certain times. She can only interact with women. Every night women come to dance with her in the room, and Jane had been dancing with the women for the past couple of days. The three of us went to her coming out ceremony. The day that she came out of the room, they held a full day ceremony on the balcony of their house (this was a wealthy Nepali family). All the women dressed in red robes, and the men wore nice clothes. They had a rug with a whole bunch of food laid out, and around the rug sat the bride, her mother, and some old man who was the religious leader. For hours, he would ring a bell in his hand and mumble indistingishable prayers. Then everyone would get up and feast in another room. They back to praying, then eating-- I think you get the idea. We stayed for one round of praying and eating and were treated with unbelievable hospitality. They even fed us meat!
The next night the family hosted a party for over 400 people. Sounds like a bar-mitzvah to me! Unfortunately I wasn't invited.