Changing Ways of Marrying: A study of the Dhimal Marriage Ritual of Damak, Nepal

by Santosh Koirala

Institution: Universitetet i Tromsø
Year: 2016
Keywords: VDP::Samfunnsvitenskap: 200::Sosialantropologi: 250; VDP::Social science: 200::Social anthropology: 250; Community making practice; Dhimal People; Dhimal Caste Development Centre; Impact; Marriage Rituals; Responsible factors for Dhimal’s changes; Modernization; tradition; culture
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064558
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10037/9335


This thesis, entitled “Changing ways of marrying: A study of the Dhimal marriage ritual of Damak, Nepal” focuses on changes in the marriage patterns of Dhimal indigenous people. Dhimal represent one of the oldest indigenous groups of Nepal, residing in the easternmost lowland since time immemorial. For the study, the choice was made for Damak municipality, which is inhabited mainly by the Dhimal and it is regarded as the fastest growing city of eastern Nepal. The main issue revealed by the study is the massive impacts of modernization, westernization, and urbanization on Dhimal indigenous people of Damak, processes that are expeditiously breaking up age-old tradition and customs. The government’s developmental plans and assimilation projects in the name of ‘one nation’ and ‘one language’ also erode the traditional culture. Further, there are some inevitable factors of political and economic nature, as well as migration, urbanization, education, mass media etc. These factors are also responsible for the cultural changes, in general, and marriage patterns, in particular. Marriage is an important social institution of the Dhimal society and thus integral part of its traditions. It is a valuable ritual among them because it brings community together. Until and unless the community provides moral support, a Dhimal marriage does not get validity. Therefore, for Dhimal people, marriage is not just about the two persons and the two families; it is also about their community. The rituals are a way of celebrating community and reinforce ethnic identity as much as a way of bonding the two people and families. But with the passage of time, the ritualistic forms and ritualists parts of their marriage have changed with the influence of modernization and globalization. Since Dhimal marriage is directly related to the community, the impact on marriage rituals entails an impact Dhimal traditions, culture and ethnic identity, indeed what makes them a distinct community. Thus, any negative impacts occurring in marriage mean breaking the identity and unity among the Dhimal people. That is what I am interested to show with this study. The leading research questions target the past and present social customs, norms and values of the traditional Dhimal community specifically as they relate to customs associated with marrying. What are the observable changes that have occurred in their marriage system now? And how are these linked to the social and cultural relationships and practices that are characteristic of Dhimal society? These questions are addressed throughout the whole thesis based on qualitative field work data collected in Damak Municipality in Nepal in June 2014. Several tools and techniques are used in order to answer the questions in this study. Modernization and ritual theories have been employed to analyse the findings. (Key Words: Community making practice, Dhimal People, Dhimal Caste Development Centre, Impact, Marriage Rituals, Responsible factors for Dhimal’s changes, Modernization, tradition, culture) Advisors/Committee Members: Jentoft, Svein (advisor).