Taken in Durbar Square, Kathmandu
Ihi, Ehee or Bel Marriage (Nepal Bhasa:ईही) (Bel bibaha) is a ceremony in the Newar community in Nepal in which pre-adolescent girls are 'married' to the bel fruit, which is a symbol of the god Shiva, ensuring that the girl becomes and remains fertile. It is believed that if the girl's husband dies later in her life, she is not considered a widow because she is married to Shiva, and so already has a husband that is believed to be still alive.
It is said that the tradition of Ihi started during 14th century, after a raid by Shamsuddin Ilyas - a warlord from Bengal. The invading force pillaged the land, burnt palaces, looted temples, killed men and boys, dishonored girls but largely left married women alone. This led people to believe marrying pre-puberty girls to gods would save them from dishonor in any future raid.