A WEDDING CEREMONY IN THE FAMILY
A common proverb prevalent among Bengalis is that we have twelve seasons but thirteen occasions to celebrate. Marriage is one of them. The season of marriage brings along with itself a season of union of two families, a season of fun for the children of the family, a season of festivity for the elders and a season for shopping for all those shopaholics in the family.
Last week I arrived at my cousin’s place to attend her marriage. She is the eldest and for me it was the first marriage in which I would be an active participant. As is our custom, the preparation for the wedding began at least a month or two before the actual marriage date with the distribution of invitation cards and calling up on every relative to double check that they have received the invitation.
As far as I remember we had been selecting things for the wedding for ten days. Then we started the actual preparation with packing of the gifts that goes from the bride’s family to the groom. This is gift is called ‘tatta’. These gifts are not sent just like that. They are actually placed on trays and decorated with paper flowers and thermocol balls and packed with coloured papers. These gifts are given when the bride goes to live with her husband. I was in charge of properly packing and decorating the gifts along with my younger brothers and sisters. Suddenly I was having this feeling of being so important and I started dominating the others.
Being in a wedding house gives you such a nice feeling of cheerfulness that you tend to tolerate even those eccentric relatives in the family like my aunt who keeps on sending people to shower when ever she finds the person dirty even with a small amount of gum.
The ceremony began with the ritual of applying turmeric paste on the bride. But the actual enjoyment began from the afternoon when my sister sat for her bridal makeover. She was making such a fuss over it, saying that her bindi was not properly matching her saree and the eye make up was too loud and her hair was not properly done. But at end of it all she was indeed looking very beautiful.
In the evening all the relatives came over and house looked like a sea of colors. Every body was so well dressed and looking so pretty. The best part of it was that as the wedding was supposed to take place at night my sister kept on complaining that she was feeling hungry and every body could have food except for her as according to the ritual. Being the bridesmaid I was totally confident that I was the next best dressed girl in the party, coming second only to the bride herself.
But then came in the worst part of all time when the fun comes to an end and the bride leaves. Everybody was so sad and my sister was crying and the whole atmosphere was tensed so that even the people who are not very close to her also feel the momentary sadness of losing her. And we, to whom she was so close, could not stop the pain from rolling down our eyes and a question came up from my four year old sister that why the bride has to leave after marriage? Why can’t she stay with us? To which no one had any answer.
When everybody left and the house was quiet, the elders said a prayer of thanks for the happy ending of the ceremony. And we the youngsters came up with the resolution that we will stay with our parents after marriage to which all the elders laughed out in unison and we knew that the air of sadness was lifted and a happy occasion was ending in happiness.