Why a Nepali bride should cry on her wedding day

**Note I am not an expert on this topic or Nepali culture. I want to know what Nepalis know about this tradition of brides on their wedding day as I do not know a lot about it.

In every culture, weddings are joyous celebrations for the couple and family.

A few years back, though, I had a conversation with some Nepali friends and Rabindra about Nepalese weddings.

Most Nepalis have told me that when a woman is married in Nepal, it’s not good for the bride to look happy or be smiling etc and they should be looking down to the ground a lot, not making much eye contact.

Obviously this is not the case in all weddings in Nepal but it’s interesting because I’ve heard this explanation from many Nepalis, both from the village and from the city.

My first thought was “oh my, this is shocking” then secondly I thought this must be a forced marriage of some kind which she is clearly distressed about because surely every bride should be happy on her wedding day 🙂

But you see in Nepal, when a woman gets married, it signifies that she no longer belongs to her own family and instead she now belongs to her husband’s family and must live in his home instead.

Generally, Nepali society says women should be crying because they have to leave their family and go live with their in-laws permanently.

A newly married woman would most likely be worried about moving out of her parent’s home and taking on their new role as a ‘buhari’ (I can totally understand this, I would be too!)

Even my own mother in law made a comment about this as obviously I was so happy on my wedding day.

My husband translated what she said and that was “in Nepal it would be unheard of to see a bride dancing and being happy on her wedding day” (she didn’t say it in a bad way toward me, more of a ‘this is so different’ way.)

I asked other Nepalis about what they thought of this and they said, traditionally, yes a Nepali bride will cry and be unhappy because they are leaving their family.
Some also said that in Nepal, any bride that was happy and having fun on their wedding day would be labelled as “crazy”. Geez how things are different with the western way and the Nepali way….

It may also have to do with the fact that in arranged marriages (the way most weddings are done in Nepal), that brides don’t know their future husband too well and have never lived with him before, so there would be apprehension and nerves about how they will get along now that they are married.

Most of my Nepali friends who have had arranged marriages look sad in their wedding photos.

I honestly don’t know what to feel about this. Surely, if you want to be married then you would be happy on your wedding day. Right? Yes? No?

Maybe they were upset because they were unsure about being married at that age. To me, I think, well it’s probably not a good idea to be married if you are not ready but there is no such level of thinking like this in Nepal.

I’ve been told that by crying (in a bad way, not like happy crying like I was) on your wedding day, it doesn’t mean they are sad to be married. Really?

But then I think, most women in Nepal are expected to marry quite young even though that’s not what they want and surely they would not fake cry.

I can’t help but think that surely if you are happy about being married, that you wouldn’t cry on your wedding day ??

I’m not sure if women who have love marriages cry as much or at all. That would be interesting to know if anyone has insight on this?

To my readers, is it true that in Nepali culture, women are expected to cry/look sad in photos on their wedding day?

Do they cry because they are unhappy or just apprehensive about moving out of their family home for the first time?

Do you think if a bride cries unhappily that she should be getting married at all?

Do women who have love marriages cry too? If so, why?

This entry was posted in Cross-cultural, Differences, Intercultural Relationship, Nepal, Women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Why a Nepali bride should cry on her wedding day

  1. bideshi in ktm says:

    My friends have said that sometimes the bride cries because she is truly sad (scared?) about what she is getting into—lots of unknowns, and the “known” that mother-in-laws are hard to live with.

    Also, they say that since it is almost always done, many *show* sorrow out of respect for their own family, because they don’t want to look happy about leaving their own parents.

    She may not always be crying out of true sorrowing emotion, but rather exhibiting some sorrow as respect over leaving her own family. At least, that is what I’ve been told.

    When we Westerners have married, we are all excited about the spouse we love and getting to be with them in this special relationship. Our joy shows on this day, and it is expected to show. Traditionally our Western views of a marriage relationship are very different than a Nepali’s view.

    • Good comments. Yeh I think it’s certainly to do with the fact they are scared about all the unknowns of their new life. I know in Nepal with the concept of arranged marriage that people fall in love after they get married. I don’t really understand this concept so I can see why you say that our Western views of marriage are so different to Nepalis. Also, I think a lot of parents see their daughters as kind of like a burden when they are unmarried. Once they finish school or studies, it’s like “well it’s time to marry them off”. Most of them don’t want to get married at that time but it’s like they don’t say no to their parents either because it’s what ‘expected’ in Nepali society.

  2. Pablo says:

    They usually cry because they are going to a new place. Yes, arranged marriage is(was) the norm and the brides usually are not sure what they are going to get. Therefore, they cry. However, having said that my sister got married to her partner of 5 years and she was dancing the entire night(it was a marriage at night). However, she still cried at the end! Do not know why!

    • Nice to see your sister danced all night like me! Maybe some nepalis think we are both crazy for dancing all night haha. Weddings are emotional time, but the difference of crying is a big thing. In our culture we cry because we are so happy. we are also expected to smile and be happy whereas this is the opposite in Nepal.

  3. O says:

    I would not say women are expected to.. it is just, the norm. What happens. And in a setup where marriage and the wedding too, is something that happens to you rather than a choice you make, you would naturally be scared. I think for the majority it is apprehension, not unhappiness. And therefore anything else just looks weird and wrong.

    Most women in Nepal have tended to probably marry before they are ready or understand enough about it. Should they? Probably not. And they may make that choice when they have more autonomy over their lives.

    To be honest, at least in my circles, noone wails these days. Sobs, maybe. Also, some of the recent weddings, (based on Facebook and my mom’s comments) have had beaming brides. They were independent women. They found men they wanted to share a life with. They organised their weddings (another traditional no no for Nepali brides). And they were pleased to be married.

    I think the crying is a function of autonomy/control a woman has, is likely to have post marriage and what her perception of marriage is. Rather than how she finds her mate.

  4. pooja says:

    Yes, women are expected to cry during their weddings. Not as much as in the older days, because I see plenty of smiling brides these days. In my opinion, it is the whole crooked social structure of Nepal (women going to husband’s home after marrying, leaving her birth home forever) that makes the women cry. I really doubt if our society had Western-like set-up (guy and girl move in to their own place after marrying) then the girls would still cry. It’s this social stigma that prevails that women once married become parai (loose translation: belonging to someone else) and is possibly never going to live with her parents again. A shy, demure woman is considered the perfect example of good Nepali woman, so the pro-patriarchs could see the smiling, happy woman on her wedding could see this as a threat and label her too “modern”. And this is why such sad, crying behavior is considered normal.

    I recently asked my mother about the wedding party she attended and she replied “It was girl’s wedding, so it was sad”. And on the same day, the guy’s side sing and dance all day waiting for the groom to bring home his new bride, whereas on the bride’s side, everybody is sad. The double standards in Nepali society seriously baffles me.

    • I love your comments, Pooja. You say it like it is. The world needs more women like you. That whole “parai” as you mention makes me sick. Seeing how women are treated in Nepal has made me a strong feminist. Yes, the double standards baffle me. It’s incredible.

  5. Sujata Parajuli says:

    Brides don’t cry just because somebody said them they have to cry or they can”t be happy . It is just the emotion coming from their inner heart to leave everything behind and moving into the new place with someone who you don’t know much( IN CASE OF ARRANGED MARRIAGE) :(Being a girl from Nepal, I was grown up into a society where girls has to leave their families and all those memories that they have had with their parents. It is extremely hard and tough and I personally think it is a big sacrifice . So, crying is just expressing their’s pain and fear of their new life and new family .Therefore, crying is not a tradition or anything like that and it’s not even mandatory that they have to cry .

    Typical 22 years old Nepali girl leaving far from their parents can express this feelings much better than anyone else . 😦 😦
    I miss my home and my families.

  6. Oh in my case, I was still in a dazed mode while marrying and when my (maiti) family sent me off. Though my marriage was an arranged marriage to a guy whom I had just known him for 10-14 days before we got engaged and two months later, we got married officially.. I was not sad honestly. I was just like in a blur state. I didn’t quite cry too until I sat in the car and was waving to those family members whom I could see and alas I saw my granny crying and I did too seeing her. It took me sometime to settle it all in cause two days later at the guy’s side of reception, I cried my eyes out. Haha! Nevertheless, I’m happily married and blessed I am to have met my husband through family connections.

  7. Prerana says:

    I recently got married in Nepal. I am a Nepali and have dated my husband (also Nepali) since we were both in high school- so, for about a decade. We both live in the US. Here’s my take- the structure of a Nepali wedding (and post-marriage life) is set up to make the bride and the bride’s family emotional, at least during the farewell part of the wedding. Before the wedding, I guessed that I might cry a little since I was pretty sure my mother was going to cry. However, on the wedding day, I was completely unprepared for how emotional I would become. I partly attribute that to the fact that my father (who I have never seen cry) was the first one to cry during the ‘bidai’. For my parents, they were sad that I now ‘belonged’ to my husband’s household. Things like where I stay during my visits to Nepal, who comes to receive at the airport etc. are going to change. So, I suppose it is natural for both the bride and her family to be emotional. I am clearly happy to be married to my partner of more than a decade but I did go to his parent’s place after the farewell with a heavy heavy heart.

    Hope my experience sheds some light!

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