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“I was 13 years old when I got married. How do I tell you the story? Well…of course they came to ask for my hand. That was the tradition. No one eloped back then. It was the month of Magh (Nepali calendar). My husband and his elder brother came from Lamitar [Samtse district, Bhutan] with the marriage proposal. I used to live in Kalimgpong, which is now in India. It was an 18-mile walk from Lamitar to Bakhrakot in India. From there, a two-hour ride took you to Kalimpong. It was another 2-3 hour uphill hike to our house from the bus stop. I was the third eldest daughter. My second eldest sister, Tika, was married to a Dahal in the same village. That’s how my husband’s family heard about me. I had never seen the groom before. How could I? In that time period, Bhutan was so far away from Kalimpong. I guess one interesting fact is that one of my brothers, Nanda Lal, and I got married on the same day. His wedding was fixed before mine. Coincidentally, the saahit (auspicious day & time) fell on the same day for both of our weddings. Back then, the groom’s procession used to come to the girl’s house at night. So, my brother’s procession left our house in the morning to reach his bride’s home by nightfall. My groom’s procession arrived at our house on the same night. Next morning, my brother’s procession returned while mine left with me. The journey from Bhutan to Kalimpong was long and exhausting. So, the groom’s traveling party arrived a few days before the wedding. They stayed at a Chettri’s house nearby. For the sake of wedding customs, it was considered the house of the groom. To complete the rituals, I was taken to that house after the wedding ceremony finished at my house. My parents and my in-laws decided I was too young to make the difficult journey to Bhutan then. They decided to take me to Bhutan after a year. Before leaving, my in-laws told me to learn household chores properly. What could I say? I nodded and that was that. I cannot remember any further details about that day. I am almost 90 years old. It has all faded away with time.”

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Ganga Devi Dulal, 87, is originally from Samchi, Bhutan and based in Springfield, Massachusetts at the time when this story was compiled.

Story and Photo compilation by Biraj Adhikari for BNS.

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