Pre 2004


Asian Geographic - - Front Page - POP­U­LA­TION RE­LI­GIONS Joined in Mat­ri­mony

Cordy­ceps is har­vested il­le­gally in Bhutan and smug­gled out via Ti­bet due to high de­mand from Chi­nese con­sumers

right Two men pre­pare their roost­ers for a fight. Af­ter the erup­tion of Mount Agung, cock­fight­ing surged in pop­u­lar­ity in the area 5th cen­tury BCE

ȑȑ­cock­fight­ing spreads to the Mediter­ranean, Europe and the Amer­i­cas

But to have good cock­fights, one must have good cocks, and the nu­anced process of rooster breed­ing takes place be­tween care­fully se­lected spec­i­mens by pro­fes­sional breed­ers. Hardy jun­gle chick­ens are crossed with larger breeds from coun­tries like the Philip­pines, and up to 10 spec­i­mens of rooster can be test-bred in or­der to hatch the strong­est chicks.

These pre­cious pets are well-pam­pered: Vac­ci­nated, fed, mas­saged and bathed, they’re kept in a shady spot in the jun­gle, and given a harem of hens with which to mate.

An ideal fa­ther must be a cham­pion fighter with a high vic­tory rate, so his off­spring will be as pow­er­ful, ac­cord­ing to 35-year-old cock­fight­ing ac­tivist I Ny­oman Darma. The best spec­i­mens have a good skele­tal struc­ture, shiny foot scales and pretty plumage – vi­brant or­ange and iri­des­cent black and gold feath­ers. Splotches or freck­les are not tol­er­ated.

“Peo­ple to­day might breed blood­thirsty birds for bet­ting fights,” says Ny­oman. “But the orig­i­nal as­pi­ra­tion of the pro­fes­sion is noble: to pro­duce a classy spec­i­men that is proud, pure and el­e­gant. Such a bird brings luck to its owner.” ag

“The orig­i­nal as­pi­ra­tion of the pro­fes­sion is noble: to pro­duce a classy spec­i­men that is proud, pure and el­e­gant”

be­low Purn­ima, 9, is dressed for her wed­ding to the Sun by her aunt and cousin in Bhak­ta­pur


Su­jata and Shiva sur­rounded by fam­ily at their wed­ding in Kath­mandu

right bot­tom Lit­tle brides get their feet painted in cel­e­bra­tory red for the Ihi cer­e­mony

1.3MIL­LION ( 5% of Nepal to­tal) LAN­GUAGE nup­tials, with the fi­nal one cul­mi­nat­ing in union with a man.

For these lit­tle brides, Ihi is the first step. Sit­ting in their fa­ther’s lap, they cra­dle the con­se­crated bael fruit, or wood ap­ple (a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Hindu god Vishnu, cho­sen for its re­sis­tance to rot), and be­come per­ma­nent wives of the im­mor­tal de­ity. Some be­lieve this prac­tice orig­i­nated from the 19th cen­tury, when, fear­ing the lusty de­sires of men from other tribes, Ne­wari fam­i­lies sought a way to pro­tect their girls’ pu­rity by hav­ing a god claim it first.

Still preva­lent to­day, the prac­tice has ex­panded to pro­tect­ing women from the stigma of wid­ow­hood. Af­ter the cer­e­mony, the girls will care­fully keep the fruit in pristine con­di­tion for the rest of their lives.

The next mar­riage, called Bahra or Gufa, must hap­pen be­fore a girl’s first men­stru­a­tion, typ­i­cally around 13 years. She spends 12 days iso­lated at home in a dark room, away from men and sun­light, dur­ing which she re­ceives sex ed­u­ca­tion from fe­male rel­a­tives. On the 13th day, she is un­veiled out­doors and wed­ded to the Sun for pro­tec­tion against evil in a fe­male-only cer­e­mony.

In the third and fi­nal mar­riage cer­e­mony, the ma­ture Ne­wari woman dons a red sari to marry her flesh-and-blood part­ner in Ihipa, a three-day party with friends and fam­ily, af­ter which she moves into her spouse’s home, all her wed­dings fin­ished at last. ag A Ne­wari Girl’s Suc­ces­sive Spouses

CHILD­HOOD Age Hus­band: Vishnu

ADO­LES­CENCE Age Hus­band: The Sun

ADULT­HOOD Age Hus­band: Spouse typ­i­cally ar­ranged by the par­ents

above Nuan, 71, has been mak­ing baat since she was eight

top right Baat for sale on dis­play at the en­trance of Ban Baat

right Sheet metal is welded to make the sides of a baat

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