Courtship and Marriage

Marriage is considered the most significant event in a person's life. Most people in Nepal marry, and matchmakers and other family members within the caste and outside the clan identify potential spouses. Frequently, people marry strangers. Love marriage is infrequent, and may be disguised as a religious marriage if it is the couple's first. Marriage is often the largest expense that a family incurs, not infrequently going into debt for years after a daughter's marriage as these include expensive dowry gifts of gold and silver jewelry and livestock. Weddings are large and expensive feasts that may continue over 3-4 days at the bride's and groom's houses.

In poorer low-caste families, brideprice may be paid by the groom's family to cover marriage costs.

When a girl reaches maturity with menarche, her public behavior is expected to conform to standards that reduce her sexual appeal and is absent of flirtatious gestures toward unrelated young men. However, there are opportunities for young people to meet and fall in love. Regular night songfests and festivals that last overnight are widely attended. During these times there is little supervision of unmarried girls and boys, as they perform competitive line singing and line dances, and share alcohol and cigarettes. It is not uncommon to hear about flirtations and liaisons that occur during the dark night hours. These special friends may meet in the forests, away from others' sight. They rarely result in marriage.

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