I clearly remember attending my first Nepali wedding reception a year ago. I was SO excited. I ironed my sari way ahead of time, to make sure it’s all prepared for the evening. You see, I only had one sari at the time. It was a sari I was gifted by my maid of honor when I traveled to India for her wedding a year earlier. It’s a beautiful piece of cloth (look below). Currently, I am a proud owner of more than just one sari.

I am, clearly, the one on the right.

I am, clearly, the one on the right.

Anyhow, I had my sari ready and when the time came, Mr.B summoned our didi to wrap the sari on me. I was awkward and clumsy, but an hour later sari was clipped onto my body and we were ready to go. The wedding was in a party palace (a fancy name for a wedding hall with catered food) and was packed with people. Everyone, of course, stared at me, and ladies giggled at me walking clumsily in the sari. I bet laughs and giggles doubled (possibly tripled) when I stepped on my sari climbing the stairs to the stage where the bride and the groom were greeting guests. It was then and there that I made an important note to myself: lift the front of your sari as you climb up the stairs. That one has been a life savior (or at least a face savior) ever since. Upon well-wishing the lucky couple, a glass or two of wine and some mingling, it was time to eat. Nepali wedding receptions always have a buffet and people eat whenever they want to. In a Western wedding you usually commit to attending one party per day and then you stay the whole night, eating dinner at the appropriate time and dancing on cue. It’s nothing like that here. Here, people often attend three or more wedding receptions in one evening. They show up, congratulate, eat their food, dance a thirty-second ego-wrecking Bollywood number with a drunken uncle, and off they fly to the next reception.

We (Mr.B and me) usually don’t do that. We commit to one reception per day. It’s only because we’re lazy like that. Going back to the point, my first wedding reception in Nepal was exciting. There was abundance of Nepali food, Indian sweets and ice cream. Nepalis love their ice cream. I had a great time at that reception, and it got me excited for all the receptions to come.  Second one was also exciting, but not as much. Then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth came and one by one they were getting less exciting. I realized one thing – they were all the same! Guests were the same, locations were the same, decorations were the same, protocol was the same, music was the same, food was the same… Heck, even uncles and aunties all looked the same.

This is what happens at a Nepali wedding reception:

1. You come in and head straight to the stage. Bride and groom sit there, receive presents and take photos with guests. They also endure an infinite number of aunty kisses and cheek squeezes.

2. You get off the stage (hopefully with your sari still on), and head for the bar. Get yourself a drink. Beer, whiskey, or soda.

3. You stand around, laugh at some awkward dance moves until you are too bored to smile and your feet are too tired. Then you walk around a bit, greet people you don’t actually want to see, and head out for some fresh air.

4. At that point you decide it’s already 9:30 pm and you should probably get some food. Head for the buffet. There’s a choice of: salads, fried veg noodles, pasta, rice, daal, tarkari, paneer in a variety of sauces, naan, chicken curry, mutton curry.

5. You fill your plate with a bit of everything and find yourself a free spot at the table.

6. Eat trying to ignore the waiters hovering behind your back. They stand there waiting for you to finish so they can take your plate away. They do it as soon as your last bite is in your mouth. Literally. It’s quite hilarious. I always have a hard time not laughing out loud. You kind of have to do that thing where you are still chewing, trying to get waiter’s attention by waving a fork that he forgot to take with the plate.

7. Go get dessert. Pastries, gulab jamun, jalebi and ice cream. Enjoy.

8. Go home.

The best part of wedding receptions in Nepal is getting to hang out with friends. It’s always fun. The worst part? They are all so much alike it’s difficult to remember whose reception it is.


7 thoughts on “Partaay

  1. Ha ha. Number 6 made me laugh! Its not just true here, we had the same deal in the Philippines. I would leave two bites on my plate on purpose just to frustrate them. Also, the way I was raised, its rude to leave the other person eating alone,…and its hard to avoid that in Asia, in general. I have to learn to eat slower!

    • Oh I have to try that strategy at the next wedding! Thanks for the idea 🙂
      And yes, I agree that leaving another person to eat alone is rude. I find it very uncomfortable here, not just in weddings, but in general, even at work.

  2. With more than one sari you must tell a story of your impressions of a tailor. Nepali tailors are world class masters of groping just about every inch of a woman’s body. They do end up with a perfectly made petticoat and blouse, but the way they take your measures is very tactile 😆

    • Oh goodness, what tailors did you go to? That sounds awful. All the tailors I went to so far were women, so no groping there. I only had good experience.

  3. The first time I went to a wedding reception here (I wore one of my “regular” nice church dresses, which I always wear), I filled up on the food that was passed around as we sat and visited. I didn’t eat any more than anyone around me–it was just that they kept passing us nice things to eat, like really good french fries and other yummies, and everyone ate as much as I did. I didn’t realize that these were simply the hors d’oeuvres! I just thought it was the way they did the reception food here and I kept eating because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Imagine my surprise when we were then motioned to the HUGE buffet that was around the corner (so I never saw it)! I was too stuffed to hardly move! I just wandered around visiting some more and hoped no one would notice that I skipped the buffet line! Now I know what to do at wedding receptions! 🙂

    • Hahaha! That’s so funny! But those snacks really are delicious. I prefer them over the buffet food. They are usually fried, and fried is always tasty, right? 🙂

  4. Pingback: Celebrate Good Times, Come On! | Home is Where the Hair Is

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