Pema Sherpa surprised us by inviting us to his relative's wedding in his village. That was one of the most endearing qualities of Pema, he never missed an opportunity to show off his heritage. Whether it was the land, the mountains or the people. He wanted to help us have a real Sikkim experience.
He drove us to his village, a little further away from Utteray. A small village called Bhaega. When we entered the venue, everyone welcomed us like we were a part of the community. The entire village was present to bless the bride and groom and shower them with love and gifts. The rituals were about to begin but the celebrations had already begun. The kids were running everywhere, stuffing their face with snacks and the adults were busy sharing laughter and beer. The bride and the groom were still getting ready. The lamas (monks) had taken their place, the elders of the family were filing in and taking their seats on the floor.
The wedding was intimate and quieter than any other wedding Naveen and I had ever attended.
The rituals began once the groom and bride were seated among the lamas and elders. The groom's relatives, on behalf of the groom and in presence of the monks would ask the girl's family for her hand in marriage. And once the girl's family gives their blessings, the girl is considered to be a part of the groom's family from that moment on.
It's followed by traditional singing and dancing and a big case of thongba is passed around for everyone to sip from, starting from the lamas then to the elders and then to the rest of the family.
Once the rituals are done, there is beer, good food and socializing that happens and then the entire gathering sends the bride with the groom in good spirits.
Naveen and I were lucky enough to be a part of this special ceremony and everyone present made us feel welcomed. They were excited to know where we were from, what we were doing, what brought us to Sikkim, where we were off to next. They wanted to know how the weddings were from where we came and Naveen pointed out that their wedding ceremony was very similar to a Coorgi wedding. Coorg, a small district in Karnataka, is a good 3,000kms away from Utteray and yet their rituals and traditions were so alike. Coorg, down in South India and Utteray, way up in North India - amazing, isn't it? So far apart but yet, not really.
Pema had to attend another wedding so we took everyone's leave and headed back to our homestay. Happy and maybe, slightly inebriated.