Covid-19 Nepal and Kathmandu lockdown: A couple’s story of the forgettable wedding that they can never forget

Farewell (Bidai) ritual of Soniya Budhathoki's
Farewell (Bidai) ritual of Soniya Budhathoki’s wedding. Photo courtesy: Roshan Roka

Roshan Roka, 28, a resident of Dhumbarahi in Kathmandu, was in a relationship with Soniya Budhathoki, 26, of Kalanki, for the past few years. Last year, they had a plan to wed.

However, there were a few lagans (auspicious dates) for weddings last year, hence they postponed it until this spring. With the beginning of the Nepali new year, the wedding season began with so many auspicious dates, which marriageable young men and women such as Roka and Budhathoki were waiting for to tie the conjugal knot.

But, soon, their dream wedding was hit by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, this couple say this ‘lockdown wedding’ turned into a forgettable one, although they are sure they will not forget.

Groom Roshan Roka and bride Soniya Budhathoki. Photo courtesy: Roshan Roka

Read their story below to know why.

Behind the scene

“Actually, the talks of our wedding started in the winter last year. By then, all my family members, as well as her family, had known about our courtship,” remembers Roka, “Meanwhile, the talks of my younger sister’s wedding with her long-term boyfriend began. And, we all decided to get her wedded first and postponed our wedding.”

Then, Roka says his family priest decided the date of April 30 for the wedding after studying the birth charts of the couple. The priest of the Budhathoki family also agreed on the date.

According to Roka, during his sister’s wedding, he purchased all the jewellery for his bride also. Later, Roka’s family also completed the rest of the shopping in the third week of April.

However, shopping from the bride side had not even started. “Although we started late, we got it done two days before the prohibitory order was announced. However, we forgot to buy three major things required for the wedding ritual which we remembered just a day before the wedding,” opens Budhathoki.

Troubles overloaded

Hence, it was huge trouble getting those utensils that the family needed for the goda-dhuwai (the ritual of washing the feet of the wedding couple by the bride’s family) on time during the strict lockdown. They contacted many online stores and nearby shops. Luckily, one of their relatives who owns a utensils shop helped them manage these copper utensils, according to Budhathoki.

Goda-dhuwai ritual of Budhathoki-Roka wedding ceremony. Photo courtesy: Roshan Roka

Another problem that the couple and their families faced was huge traffic congestion after the prohibitory order was announced and before it was imposed. Budhathoki’s cousin Sushma who had gone to the groom’s house to send them invitations and gifts, remembers, “While returning from the groom’s house, we had to sit in a taxi for about three hours. Also, one of our gifts to the couple, a washing machine, got stuck in its way due to the jam. It hasn’t reached till date.”

Roka also talks about his share of troubles, “My sister’s in-laws and other relatives had come all the way from Tehrathum for my wedding on April 26, but they had to return two days before the wedding as the transportation would be suspended the next day.”

Like Roka’s relatives, Budhathoki’s elder brother and sister-in-law, who have been living in Qatar for six years, could not make up for the wedding as they were not allowed to travel anywhere by their respective employers, grimaces Budhathoki.

Dilemma over the guest list

In the meantime, before the lockdown was announced, the guests’ list kept on changing several times as they were not sure what was going to happen next. Even amidst this uncertainty, the bride’s family had reserved a venue for the wedding at a temple in Balkhu. However, that went in vain after the lockdown was imposed in the Kathmandu valley.

Groom Roshan Roka with his guests. Photo courtesy: Roshan Roka

On the other hand, Roka says, “Till the third week of April, my family and I had decided to invite about 100 guests for the wedding procession. We had estimated about 200 guests from both sides altogether.”

But, soon, the groom got a call from the bride’s family for another round of discussion about conducting the wedding as the media outlets were flooded with the contents about the second wave of Covid-19 in Nepal. It was the last week of April.

“After the discussion, we all together decided to conduct a wedding, inviting only 25 people from both sides in total to a temple,” says Roka.

But, after many discussions, it was decided to conduct the ceremony on a rooftop, and considering all health protocols.

The big day

Then, the wedding day finally came and as ordered by the District Administration Office, Roka and his family limited the invitees up to 20 and left for the bridge’s house on two vehicles with ‘shubha bibaha’ (happy weddings) banners. Thus, they faced no problem in reaching the bride’s house.

But, Budhathoki, who had dreamt of a fairytale wedding since her childhood, never wanted the wedding she had. “I was really upset. I could not invite my extended family members, relatives, my friends, and dear ones who never miss inviting me and my family on any occasion. More than that, I missed my mother’s mother, my elder brother and my sister-in-law’s presence at my wedding.”

Nonetheless, she consoles herself, “What could we do? We all were and still are chained by the circumstances.”

What turned her down, even more, was the attitude of her family priest, shares  Budhathoki. “My house did not even look like a bride’s home as our priest didn’t make us perform all these rituals citing the fear of spreading the coronavirus.”

“When our family urged him to at least set up the mandap on the morning of the wedding day, he clearly rejected and asked to find another priest if we wanted to do so,” laments Budhathoki.

She says it also left the groom’s family dissatisfied, hence, they made up it the next day.

Roka and Budhathoki have put their reception and the traditional ritual of the in-laws’ meeting on hold until the lockdown will be over.

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Budhathoki was a correspondent at Onlinekhabar from February 2020 to February 2022.

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