Bel Bibaha : Meaning And Significance Of Bell Bibaha In Newari Tradition


Bel Bibaha : A daughter born in a Newar clan gets married three times. Not to marry the groom (man) three times. The first marriage is performed before menstruation, with Suvarna Kumar, the symbol of Lord Vishnu. This is what is called in Newar language. This is followed by bara: tayegu (cave keeping). In this process, one gets married to Suryadarshan i.e. Surya and the third time one gets married to the groom (male).

Bel Bibaha
Bel Bibaha

However, since only Surya Puja and Darshan are performed and Kanyadan is not performed, there is an opinion that Surya Darshan is not a marriage. There is a belief in the Newar community that a Newar woman should not lead a colorless or widowed life even if her husband dies after she was married to Suvarna Kumar before menstruation. If the Newar girl is not married, then there is a basis to give psychological consolation that she is married to Suvarna Kumar. Bel Bibaha

This means marriage. In the book ‘Our Society: A Study’, Janaklal Sharma writes, ‘This is more important in Newar society. This is a kind of marriage. This is not the case in other societies of Nepal except Newar. This literally means marriage. ‘ Similarly, Nagendra Sharma writes in his book ‘Nepali Janajivan’, ‘This literally means marriage. This is what a Newar girl has to do with Suvarna Kumar.

The Newarns’ marriage to their husbands, though not a secondary one, seems to be a social contract. That’s why Newarni, who wants to remarry, enjoys traditional freedom. ‘ In the ‘Newar-Nepali-English Dictionary’ published by Nepal Pragya-Pratishthan, it has been interpreted as a marriage so that one does not have to live as a widow. This is one of the most important rites of the Newar community. Bel Bibaha

Bel Bibaha
Bel Bibaha

This is also a method of Kanyadan. Especially according to Nepal Samvat, it is customary for a virgin to do this on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya (falling in April). It can be done at other times according to the site. This process usually lasts for two days. The culture varies from place to place, and in some places this is done in one day. It is believed that this work should be done day by day.

There is also a belief that on the day of Akshay Tritiya, Shri Panchami and Vivah Panchami, one does not have to look at the site to do this.
This is done before menstruation, especially at the age of 5 (7, 9, 11). Bel Bibaha

Legend
No written evidence has been found as to how and when this practice took place. However, it is estimated that this culture started from the Lichhavi period. According to a legend related to this rite, Mother Parvati, who was blessed to have Lord Shiva as her husband under the influence of Swasthani Vrata, asks for a bridegroom so that her mother’s disciple may have the same opportunity as her.

After that, Lord Shiva married Suvarna Kumar (Hiranya Garbha), the symbol of Lord Vishnu, in his virginity and gave him the gift of eternal happiness. From that time onwards, the Newars of Nepal Mandal followed the same word of Lord Shiva. From that time onwards, the marriage of virgins with the symbol of Lord Shiva, the bell, as a symbol of the future bridegroom, was performed with the symbol of Lord Vishnu, Suvarna Kumar (Hiranya Garbha).

In time, this is what the Newars called marriage. From this, the word ehipa: (marriage) is formed. Bell was married as a symbol of the future bridegroom’s marriage. However, some experts say that this does not mean bell marriage. Along with this rite, the rite of keeping the cave (sun marriage) also started. Earlier, it was customary to keep a virgin hidden in a dark room for 12 days without seeing the face of the sun.

While this has made it easier for parents, both financially and socially, it seems to have given less importance to the Ba’athist Taegu culture, which is a matter of concern. According to the Sanatan Hindu rites, there are sixteen rites. Even though they are Hindus, Newars have been following only Dashakarma rituals. This is the rite performed for virgins out of those ten karma rites.

The virgin’s ehi and bara: tayegu are used just like a man’s chuda karma is done. Chuda Karma is associated with Hindu rites, while Ihi and Basra: Tayegu are based on a mixed Hindu and Buddhist rite. The girl who has already done this is allowed to wear vermilion on the seam. Therefore, it is not surprising to see an unmarried Newar girl wearing vermilion.

Since Kanyadan can be done in this manner, there is no need to decorate the wedding pavilion or Kanyadan in the marriage of a Newar girl and no Havan Yajna is required. Therefore, the marriage of a Newar girl used to be secret even if it was a arranged marriage yesterday. It was customary for some people from the bridegroom’s house to go to the bride’s house at night and bring her back.

In such a marriage, it was not necessary for the bridegroom to go to the bride’s house. Nowadays, in the Newar community, it is customary to go to the bride’s house with the bride and groom by playing the jhyajinjai baja, make a mandapa and perform the havan yajna. This is not Newar’s own original culture. Even in relation to feasts, it is the original culture of the Newars to sit and eat in a row in their own backyards. Bel Bibaha

Method

Bel Bibaha
Bel Bibaha

Even within Newar, there are differences in its method and process according to caste and place. In the Kathmandu Valley itself, the method and procedure are different according to the different castes and tolls within Newar. Such a difference can be seen in the Ehima which is organized collectively outside the valley. Moreover, modernity has entered the collective spirit that is organized abroad.

This process, which is done collectively, usually lasts for two days, while it is done at home on the same day. Depending on the location, the procedure is different and longer or shorter. There may be a different method than the one mentioned here.

Duso-Dhus: (first day)
According to this custom prevalent in Kathmandu, the site is created by first showing the identity of the virgin. According to Saita, on the first day, all the members of the household are washed and the house is cleaned. This day is called Duso-Dhusah or Purvang. On this day, this yajna is started by worshiping Ganesha, Kuladevata, Agam Devata and other deities according to their own rituals. Bel Bibaha

On this day, the fingernails and toenails of the girl are cut off. The girl’s aunt puts the cut nails on a plate of hashish without letting them fall to the ground. On this occasion, it is customary for the bride to give a bundle of clothes or other gifts to her aunt. In the same way, Alha (a kind of red color) is applied up to half a foot of both the legs of a virgin.

Similarly, the priest prepares the mandapa for this. The priest holds a urn and worships various deities including Ganesh and Kshatrapal as symbols. Guava (lump of thread) of kumha, jyana: lapte (leaf of a non-flowering plant), knife, kanya (bronze), halu (turmeric), sukhunya (sidra), gwagu gwai (whole betel nut) etc. should be kept in worship. One of the main functions of this day is to pay homage to the father. In Shraddha, it is customary for the eldest woman who does not have a mother to worship.

From other devotees, the urn and other guardians worship the deities who are considered to be the symbols of different names and climb the Dakshina. After that, the girl is worshiped three times by placing pieces of fruit from the manyajan on a wooden pathi. Good luck is also given by lighting a lamp and lava knife. After this, the guardian asks the bride to hold the traditional bhote lock and welcomes her to the mandapa. Bel Bibaha

If this is the group, then the other participating girls are also settled. Then the incense is burned. The virgin is vaccinated three times and once in the name of the original deity of the house. The sun god Deep Bali is worshiped in front of Thaibhu (a large embroidered plate to feed the bride and groom at the wedding). After the pooja, Thaibhu Nakegu, i.e. feeding, is performed. After the meal, the lamp is lit and the virgin is made to worship and is called Vayankegu (to be thrown in the bath). This is how the first day’s rites are performed.

The second day
On the second day, the main method is completed. First of all, the bride is cleansed and adorned like a bride. After that, vermilion is applied on the stitches of the virgin and wrapped with ehiparsi (a type of sari). Putting a sari on a girl means giving her the look of a girl. After the priest performs the yajna in the mandapa, the virgin is also allowed to worship.Bel Bibaha

The bride’s father then holds the bride in his arms and worships the symbol of Shiva, the bell, and the symbol of Vishnu on a piece of raw gold with water, incense, inviolability, flowers and other worship materials. The virgin worships at Kisali (the time with the promised money and betel nut), giving agharya to Suvarna Kumar. Suvarna Kumar is believed to have offered gold to Dakshina.

The maiden is made to wear a hipsi, a salapa (pictured clay plate) is placed in front of her, and the bell is held in her hand. Virgo should have Jwalanhayak (special type of mirror) and Sinhamu (vaccinator). The maiden is anointed with lava, flowers and abir. The father holds the bride in his arms and worships her in front of the bell as a symbol of the future bridegroom’s gift to Suvarna Kumar. Bel Bibaha

After Kanyadan, Kanya’s father offers Dakshina according to the bunch. The priest holds the bell in both the hands of the maiden, circumambulates the mandapa from the manyajan and puts her back in her place. It is customary to offer alms after the mandapa parikrama. This is called baharah chukegu (queuing for begging). On this occasion, good luck items are given to the girl.

According to the Newari tradition, Kanya is also taught to do housework by grinding siloto, beating dhinki, beating chiura, and sifting nanglo. After the household chores, all the deities are worshiped by the devotees and Tika and Danadakshina are performed. After taking the water and offerings of the urn and using the flame from the devotees, the same ritual is completed.

And only this done virgin is fed Thaibhu. It is also customary to invite relatives, neighbors and friends to a feast. It is customary for the eldest woman of the house to stand in front of Pikhalkhu Dya (Kumar) in front of the main door of the house and worship the bride and bring her home with a pair of clothes and offerings in her right hand. This method is similar to the method of sending brides in the Newar community. Bel Bibaha

Although this is the only Newar rite, Shahi (Khadgi), Dyaula (Pode), Kapali (Jogi, Darshandhari) etc. are not practiced in some Newar castes and sub-castes. However, in recent times, they have also started following the same culture.

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In the Newar community, it is mentioned in Bajracharya’s book ‘Newa: Samskara Parichay’ that a Newar girl will never be considered a widow and can remarry even if she is a widow. In Hindu culture, it was believed that if a daughter was given a dowry without menstruation, she would get merit. However, such beliefs have been severely curtailed. In the Newar community, the practice of virginity has been practiced since time immemorial, and the progressive culture of being a widow even after the death of her husband has developed. Bel Bibaha

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