“Namaste, tapaai sanchai hunuhunchha?” (which means “Hello, how are you?” in Nepali.) That is how I would typically greet a Nepali villager I’m meeting for the first time.
“Namaste, ma sanchai chhu. Tapaaiko bihaa bhayo?” is the reply I normally get. (“I’m fine. Are you married?”)
In fact, I get this question about my marital status even from children as young as the age of 9!
Marriage is one of the most important things in life, especially in the remote villages of Nepal. Girls get married from as young as 13 years of age – most of which are arranged marriages. By 18, most of them are married with children.
I was privileged to witness a wedding in a village in Nepal. The day after the wedding, the newly-wed teenage bride said to me, “It’s my first time in my husband’s village and home. I have never been here before. I have never seen my husband’s family. I come from a more developed part of Nepal where my parents have workers to work on their field, we cook on gas and we don’t need to climb mountains like this.” Now, she needs to take over the task of cooking for her husband’s family, feeding the animals, working on the field, doing laundry, climbing mountains to get firewood and other chores. Henceforth, she will only be able to visit her parents during major festive occasions.
In other instances, after marriage, the husband gets a job in another country, leaves his wife with his family and comes back to visit her once a year. She is left with her in-laws and works hard for them and raises her children on her own.
My heart goes out to these girls when I hear their stories. Please pray that married teenage girls in the villages of Nepal will have wisdom to raise up their children and will have the strength and resilience to do hard physical work on the fields. Pray that even in such arranged marriages, there will be love among husbands and wives.
SHERYLN ANG | NEPAL