Matches are made in heaven, but in Bangladesh, weddings are no less than a hefty affair in bringing people together. Today, we see these age-old traditions take new forms in modern celebrations. Although there are some regressive rituals, most of them paint a picture of innocent sentiments.
The aiburobhaat is a pre-wedding custom that is celebrated in regions like Khulna and other parts of the country. Before the day of the actual wedding, the bride or bridegroom's family (mostly the mother and the aunts) hosts a party exclusive to close relatives and friends as a see-off ritual. These days the families also celebrate the occasion a day or two before to properly send off their loving child. The term "ai-buro" refers to an unmarried young adult and bhaat (rice), juxtaposed with this means the last meal of the singles before marking their new lives. Though the sentiment behind this ritual is somewhat sweet, these days it often turns into an exhibition of the opulence of the family the girl or boy is getting married into.
In parts of Dinajpur and Sirajganj, there's a tradition of giving monetary gifts to the bride or groom during the gaye holud ceremony. The guests pay a pretty penny as a blessing to the soon-to-be newlyweds after applying turmeric to their bodies. Despite it being heavy on the pockets of the guests, this sure is a great kick-starter to the couple's honeymoon funds.
This isn't the only ceremony that involves monetary transactions. The youngsters of the families, in cahoots with the bride and groom's friends, play different pranks on the wedded pair in hopes of earning a little cash. We've heard of juta churi and gate dhora but in different regions, these wedding practices wear a different hat.
In Noakhali and some other parts of Bangladesh, a handwashing prank is played on the bridegroom when he goes to the bride's house for the wedding ceremony. Before eating, the groom is given soap and water to wash his hands but the mischievous bunch holds him captive as he is left in a pickle with foam lathered hands while the water is snatched away from him. The only way out is paying a small ransom to his new in-laws. The bride isn't spared from such games either. The couple has to negotiate with "team groom" to enter their room on their nuptial night, evading chili powder-spiked drinks and eager eyes.
The festivities don't stop here. In the rural parts of Bengal, there's a post-wedding ritual called the "jamai bazar" or locally known as "aaraihulla" in Chandpur where the groom is fed leftovers from the wedding programs, until he buys fresh produce for his new family. The freshly-bought produce is then cooked into a feast for everyone. Albeit not prevalent in the urban areas anymore, in Sylhet and its surrounding areas, the bride has to cut a fish in an effort to prove her competency in household chores. There's usually a roll of cash tucked in the fish's throat for the bride to find as a blessing for embarking on her new journey.
Farnaz Fawad Hasan wants to play Jenga with chicken nuggets. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org