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|Volume 11 |Issue 35| September 07, 2012 ||
Nadia Kabir Barb
London is now gradually winding down after a few months of Olympic mania. Soon the flags, the posters, the hoardings and the ads on TV will all disappear and the euphoria of having hosted a successful Olympic and Paralym-pic games will be a thing we look back on and smile. Although we are still in September, the shops will start putting their Christmas window displays out and the lights and decorations will begin to go up in all the major shopping areas and arcades. Before we know it, we will be surrounded by Christmas paraphernalia and determined shoppers on a mission for Christmas gifts. On the other hand, back home in Dhaka, people will probably be gearing up for the December wedding season mania! Venues will have been booked up months in advance, cards will be ready to be sent out and the shopping for wedding clothes and accessories will be in full swing.
Though the wedding season actually lasts all year round and there are countless marriages taking place during different times of the year where no amount of monsoon rain or sweltering heat can stop the festivities, the winter months still seem to be the preferred time for tying the knot. During the rest of the year, it must be an advantage and a bit of a relief to know that your wedding is the only one your invitees will be attending on that particular day instead of wedding hopping which is a phenomenon that seems to occur with weddings happening in December or January. With so many weddings taking place, and many of them overlapping, it can be hard to choose one over another without causing offence and wedding hopping or going from one ceremony to another seems like the best option. On the flip side it can detract from being able to enjoy any one function and also make it impossible to give any of the couples the importance and exclusivity that they deserve on such a special day.
In winter, you need only look as far as any of the seemingly infinite number of beauty parlours to realise the staggering number of 'brides' waiting to have their hair and makeup done, have their jewellery put in place and have their saris pinned to perfection. As an observer it is quite fascinating as it almost feels like you are watching a well oiled machine in action or an exceedingly efficient factory production line where after a few hours of primping and preening one beautiful bride after another is churned out.
When I was growing up, family weddings were occasions where young or old, we all had a part to play. Whether it was preparing for a sing off between the bride or bride grooms party, helping with decorating the dalas or trays on which the gifts would be taken or just enjoying the company of everyone else during the pre-wedding preparations, it was a time of fun and festivities. Most gaye holud functions were held in people's homes or at best in community centres or small venues and it really just included family and close friends. In other words they were usually rather intimate affairs. The bride tended to be dressed simply in a yellow cotton sari with a red border and the flowers used to decorate the stage were usually marigolds. There may have been a theme where people wore colour coordinated saris or Punjabis but never anything particularly elaborate. Nowadays, the saris worn by both the bride and the guests almost parallel those worn at a wedding.
Playing rong was also something we all looked forward to after the holud ceremony. I wonder whether anyone plays rong anymore these days. After the guests would leave, the real fun would begin and no one was safe from being attacked with the coloured powder that left us looking like multi coloured creatures and that entailed an inordinate amount of scrubbing for us to be presentable at the next function. I also recall that my introduction to crime came at an early age where I was able to successfully steal the shoes of the groom at my cousins wedding. Sadly since then I have been labelled 'joota chor' or shoe thief and even to this day have to suffer the ignominy of being referred to as such by my brother-in-law and his family! Over the years holud ceremonies have evolved and become much bigger not just in terms of the number of people but also in terms of the lavishness of the event.
Not only have the holuds become an event where the guest list has expanded, weddings have become an even bigger event. It can at times appear to be a show and tell of stunning saris and jewellery with the poor bride at risk of being over shadowed by some of the guests in all their finery. Even the stages built for the bride or bridegroom these days have become more and more spectacular and extravagant as have the wedding venues themselves, though there is a fine line between doing something tastefully and going one step too far and making it slightly over the top, and in many cases bigger does not necessarily mean better! One aspect of weddings that have remained quite the same is the necessity for video men to take videos of people when they are eating. Why they do this is beyond me and will remain a mystery unless someone has any insider information and can clear this up for me.
Though I may be a little cynical about the lengths some people will go to make their event outshine those of others, I have to admit there are some positive outcomes that I am very well-disposed to and how can I not be willing to be swayed in favour of those holuds I have attended recently that provide a 'phuchka and chotpoti' stand. Forget the imported flowers and the dazzling decor, no amount of pomp or splendour can compete with a phuchka stand in my eyes. What say you?
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