In the Spirit of Valentine

Most marriages in Ritoma are arranged by the families. When a young man or woman come to age, which is very early, their parents begin to look for a match which can be in the village itself or beyond. Prospects are singled out and when a possible match seems close, families sit down to consider options. The young people whose future is being discussed rarely have any say and the deliberations will go on taking into consideration the business aspects of the match. The bride can join the groom’s family and become a nama, the groom can join the bride’s family and become a magpa, or as they often do nowadays, a time when young nomad men have a difficult time finding a bride, set up their own household, independent of their parents and seeking out other means of livelihood.

Lhamo and Drukyabum’s marriage was not arranged; they fell for each other at a very young age, when Lhamotso was modelling and Drukyabum was on the photographer team. Drukyabum told his family he wished to marry her. There was some opposition to the match but neither would be swayed. It was finally agreed that Drukyabum would join Lhamotso’s household and he moved in with her parents, whom they support thanks to their both being employed at Norlha.

Lhamo Tso had come to work for Norlha at fifteen, after she dropped out of middle school. She had to leave for a while as she was considered under aged, but rejoined when she turned sixteen. Drukyabum’s grandfather and many of his cousins worked at Norlha and at sixteen, after he dropped out of school, he was hired as an assistant photographer. Lhamo Tso began working as a finisher, then became a tailor. Drukyabum was in the dyeing section, then became a full-time basketball player for the Norlha team. He is known for his skill with horses and is an excellent rider. They now have two children and Lhamotso, now 24, is outspoken and active; she plays basketball, is learning English and is looked up to among the women for her maturity and level headedness.