Accepted paper:

For Love's Sake? Sonic and visual aesthetics of weddings in contemporary Nepal


Christiane Brosius (Heidelberg University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation explores Hindu wedding rituals in contemporary Nepal by analysing sonic and ethnographic data from marriage processions accompanied by wedding bands and by studying wedding photography and videography from the perspective of their producers.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation focuses on Hindu wedding rituals in contemporary Nepal. Two sets of data are discussed: a particular way of framing and staging marriage processions (janta vanegu) in the context of wedding bands and their performative and musical choreography. Despite many changes taking place within the choreography of marriage (e.g., the introduction of a 'dating culture', the addition of engagement, hiring a DJ on the evening of the reception), the wedding band is still an essential part of marriages; both for emotional, ritual and aesthetic reasons. Another set of arguments will be developed by presenting photographic and videographic materials made by professional cameramen. One aspect worth exploring is the fact that Bollywood is still relevant in terms of music. But the visual and other theatrical aesthetics show a reluctance to adopt elements from Indian marriages. Instead, there is a desire to generate a 'Nepali way' of staging weddings as cultural heritage, if at all. This also seems to indicate the existence of a different consumer culture and emotional ecology of the key ritual processions. The material used for this study has been collected in 2010, after accompanying several wedding bands from Bhaktapur during the marriage season, interviewing band leaders and band members, wedding photographers and videographers who also document the bands' performances, and members of the wedding party.

panel P48
Weddings: identity and aesthetics in a globalising consumer world