Bel Biwaha

(Bael Biwaha/Bel Bibaha) or “Ehee” is a ritual that signifies a coming of age for Newar girls.  It is an age-old tradition followed devoutly by the Newar community – the predominant resident population in Patan, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur in Nepal.

Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha

A typical Newar girl will undergo three different marriage ceremonies in her life-time – with a bael fruit, the Sun god and finally a man. Each ceremony is a rite of passage; the first – Bel Biwaha – is carried out well before the girl reaches puberty. During this symbolic marriage with a bael fruit, the girl is donned with a red sari and ornaments, and fashioned like a typical Newari bride. The bael fruit is considered an incarnation of the god Kumar – son of Lord Shiva. It is believed that by giving away his daughter in marriage to an immortal, a father secures his daughter’s future from widowhood. This ceremony also supposedly bestows the girl with enhanced fertility and health. Folk lore also proclaims that the bael fruit used at the marriage ceremony foretells of the future husband’s traits – a healthy bael fruit equals an attractive, doting husband while a damaged one indicates the opposite. Some also suggest that this age-old practice was brought about by Newars to circumvent the customary practice of Sati, where the widow immolates herself along with her dead husband in a funeral pyre.

Bel Biwaha

Common practice

Bel Biwahas are conducted at the family’s discretion at a pre-determined date on consultation with the “Gubhaju” (Newar priest), either within a small gathering comprising of close family members only or with much festive fanfare often followed by a lavish banquet.Ehees en masse during Basant Panchami are also a common feature and regularly acquire the shutterbug‘s attention.

A more comprehensive account of a Bel Biwaha is available at http://colorfulnepal.com/culture-and-religion/newars-of-the-valley.html.

Listed below are some more  photos from a Bel Biwaha ceremony conducted at Bijeshwori temple, near Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. Please do comment in what you think of the post and the photos. :)

Bel Biwaha

Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha

Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha Bel Biwaha

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  • tarna kumar

    “closed mouth dont get fed”  guess it is true. after you mentioned about the 2000 visit and not a single comment, I had to come and check out the post.Found it interesting. now I know about bel biwaha, thanks to you. pictures are nice. love the third one from the last a lot.

    • http://utsavmaden.com.np/ Utsav

      thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I will try to pitch more from now I guess :)

  • Pariva

    Hey Utsav… thank you so much for the glimpse of a very unique culture….

    • http://utsavmaden.com.np/ Utsav

      You are welcome :)

  • abdawriter

    Hi Utsav,

    Thanks for the insightful and in-depth background on Bel Biwaha, and your effort on collecting the images.

    Interesting to know that Newari girl marry three times in their lifetime, no wonder they have a rich culture.

    • http://utsavmaden.com.np/ Utsav

      I took the photos myself!  Did have to read up a lot to get around to writing about it though. Thanks for dropping by :)

  • Udayan Mishra

    Good photos. Descriptive text. Job well done :) !

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