Kaapa Lnaka Wedding Shoes

Festival Issue 59 Jul, 2010
Text by Utsav Shakya

If you do not know where you come from, you will not know where you are going. Nothing holds truer to this adage than the numerous rites and rituals that constitute Nepali culture. What may seem to unfamiliar eyes, a simple ceremony, usually is not. Every step of a particular ceremony has a history and far-reaching meanings attached to it. A typical Hindu-Nepali marriage is full of these aforementioned rites and rituals.

The bride is adorned fully in red attire, from the customary sari to the slippers on her feet. For Nepali people, red is an auspicious color and marriage means a union not just of two people, but also of two souls for all of their lives and beyond.

The special slippers that a bride wears are made out of cloth. Leather is deemed impure in places of worship as well as for ceremonies such as a marriage. Leather slippers or anything made out of synthetic fibers are hence, never worn. An outline of a flower is sewn onto the top of the slippers with gold colored thread, which signifies good luck. These customary slippers are not easily available and can be found only in some old shoe shops around Indra Chowk and Makhan Tole. They are known simply as Kaapa Lnaka in the Newari language, meaning ‘shoes made out of cloth’.

The slippers worn by the bride are red for yet another reason; red is also the color associated with wealth and prosperity. The bride, according to Hindu culture, takes wealth along with her into her husband’s home after they are married. Therefore, a bride wearing red slippers signifies this act of the daughter-in-law bringing in luck, fortune and prosperity to her new home.

Attention to such details, give much more meaning and richness to Nepali marriages. It is perhaps adherence to such age-old customs in
modern times, that holds Nepali society together.