Kathmandu,31 Jan 2015: Clad in the traditional Newari bridal dress, 24 Newari girls below 9 years were gathered at Basantapur today for ‘marriage’. That’s again not with the boys, but with the wood apple (bel, a kind of fruit).
It obviously sounds unusual but the girls were waiting to get married off en masse as a part of their tradition rite called Bel Bibaha (marriage with wood apple).
In line with the Newari tradition, a girl gets married twice before finally marrying a man. One of the rites is Bel Bibaha where she gets married with the fruit before reaching puberty.
The 24 girls, in accordance with the ritual, had offered rice, cloth and money to priest Subarna Narayan after worshipping Goddess Kumari and Lord Bishnu.
According to Basanta Prasad Rimal, a priest at the marriage ceremony organized by Mahadev Parbati Puja Management Committee, the girl in this customary ceremony worships Lord Bishnu and offer the fruit Bel to Lord Bishnu as a symbol of a bride. The girl, who is married to Bel is brought to her home after offering.
On the occasion, the priests chanted the Vedic mantras and performed tantric rituals, wishing the girls best of luck.
After the marriage, the bride and the parents should take special care to keep the purity intact for the girl and for her fruit groom.