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Royal ritual before marriage

Kathmandu, Jan. 17 (Reuters): The daughter of Nepal’s king is to marry a commoner next week — but it is a marriage arranged by her parents and the wedding will be the second celebration in as many weeks for the family, which was almost annihilated in a 2001 massacre.

Hindu priests chanted religious verses as 24-year-old Princess Prerna exchanged rings today with Raj Bahadur Singh, a 29-year-old computer science graduate from the University of California, in a ceremony at the Narayanhity Palace.

A smiling King Gyanendra led Prerna, dressed in a red sari glittering with gold embroidery, to the hall for the Swayambar or engagement ceremony.

A palace official said the couple also exchanged garlands in the first of a series of ceremonies before their wedding.

“This (the rite) signifies they have consented to become wife and husband,” chief royal priest Ramesh Prasad Pandey said.

A palace statement said Gyanendra conferred the title of “Kumar” on the intended groom, raising his position to that of a royal family member.

The wedding will take place on Wednesday at the sprawling Narayanhity Palace, the site of a bloody shootout in June 2001 when inebriated crown prince Dipendra shot his father, King Birendra, and eight others.

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