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the Blog 4 by Michèle Béguin
IHI or Bhel Bibha Sangha the marriage of the Newari girls.

Ihi or Bel Sanga Bibaha

Buddhist or Hindu a Newari girl is married three times in her life. Before the puberty, when she gets between five to nine years, the young girl is married to the Lord Narayan represented for the occasion by the wood apple the god. This first marriage is called "Ihi" in Newari or "Bel Sanga Bibaha" in Nepali. Later she will be married to the Sun and the ceremony is called “Bara Tayegu” in Newari or “Gufa Rakhne”, when finally she will marry her human husband it will be her third marriage. The full ceremony of Ihi lasts for two days starting with the purification and ending with the “Kanyadan” of the girl by the father, giving symbolically away his virgin daughter. The Ihi ceremony must be regarded as very sacred and a must for all Newari girls. For this occasion a priest is called to conduct the ceremony for the Buddhist Newars he is called “Gubhaju” and “Deobhaju” for the Hindu Newars. It is an expensive affair and most of the time the ceremony is organized for several girls together, and can be even a huge group of girls up to four hundred, getting linked to Narayan. It is true that the expenses are heavy to bear, so the ceremony is handled whenever the sponsors have the budget for it. For Dusala Kriya, first day of that event, the girls take a purification bath and dress with new clothes and ornaments. Once done, they come, accompanied by a elderly lady from the father’s side and assemble sitting in an orderly line in a purified courtyard. The priest helped by his wife, purify them, doing the different sequences of his puja with small groups, one after another. The ceremony will carry on with the adoration and worship of a beautiful image set in the middle of the courtyard, the one of Suvarna Kumara, the golden son of Lord Shiva, the eternal Bachelor. It will close with mutual blessings. The second day is the most important. The get together is again in the courtyard. The girls are dressed in the most glittering bridal local attire, with their long skirt, blouse and shawl, adorned with gold jewellery like goddesses and red tikka on the forehead. Their day begin with the ritual purifications and will follow with the Kanyadan. The father gives then, symbolically the hand of his girl to Suvarna Kumara. It will be concluded by offering the typical set of clothes that parents give to a now married girl. The girl, therefore married, can never be a widow and in the past did not have the obligation to commit a suicide on her husband’s funeral pyre, which were observed, fortunately unequally, centuries ago. The Newari ladies can remarry if they are left alone, without a husband by their side. Thought the rites have been transformed with the cultural influences of the incoming groups into the valley, performing Ihi is still a compulsion.

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A Propos de Michèle Béguin

CNIL:1050096 2004 © Michèle Béguin