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Pote: Symbol of Marriage in Nepal
Colorful necklaces of glass beads are an important part of local culture
Rupa Kharel (rupi)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-02 14:37 (KST)   
The pote bazaar at Indrachowk in the heart of Kathmandu is a distressing place for widows. They lost their right to wear pote when their husbands died.

Pote is a Nepali word for the colorful glass beads which play an important part in Nepalese weddings.

During the marriage ceremony the groom places a golden necklace called a tilhari around the bride's neck. The amount of gold present in the tilhari indicates how wealthy the groom is. The tilhari hangs from strings of glass beads.

These glass beads are symbolic of a woman's married state.

People gossip when widows wear pote. They also look and point if a married woman fails to wear them. They say, "Look! She is not wearing pote, her husband will die soon."

It is believed that if a married woman doesn't wear pote she will shortly become a widow. For this reason married women don't remove their pote at night.

A married woman wearing pote in the two different styles.
©2006 R.Kharel
Pote can be worn sideways, slung from the right shoulder and passing under the left arm, or hung like a garland around the neck. Women are able to choose whichever style they prefer.

Although pote are only worn in Nepal and India, the beads are imported from the Czech Republic, India, China and Japan. Over a thousand colors are available, and round, normal and cut beads are much in demand.

Japanese beads are the most expensive, costing between (US$43-$57) 3000 to 4000 Rupees per kilogram. In comparison Chinese beads are just (US$2) 140 to 150 Rupees per kilogram.

People normally pay by the strand rather than by weight. On average one strand costs between 10 to 80 Rupees. A string of pote usually consists of around 2000 tiny beads.

It may surprise readers that although Muslims don't wear pote, most of the shopkeepers selling them are Kashmiri Muslims. They have been involved in the business from the time they first settled in Kathmandu.

Different ethnic and caste groups wear pote in different ways. In the Brahmin and Chettri communities pote are worn all year round. Particularly beautiful pote are worn during local festivals and the wedding season.

Gurung women only wear pote during Lhosar, their new year period. Their pote are usually green and are not attached to tilhari.

Pote play a vital role in our traditions and are considered to be an integral part of Nepalese culture.

Colorful in the bazaar at Indrachowk in the heart of Kathmandu
©2006 R. Kharel
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rupa Kharel

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