*July 15, 2011
As I am ushered to the table where my co-workers and I will eat dinner, I am told that a wedding of less than five hundred people is considered small. I am also doing my best to keep my sari from falling apart. It’s a lively red and yellow and I tried to put it on myself this time around, for the first time. I succeeded only a little – the beautiful folds that Sabrina Apa had recreated only two nights ago with another sari were barely recognizable.
A dear colleague who I met just three weeks ago was so kind to invite me to her wedding, at the end of my very first week in Bangladesh. Snigdha Apa works with Administration at Friendship and has played a pivotal role in my integration into the Friendship family over the past three weeks.
So two nights ago, I attended her gaye holud, an event that takes place a few days prior to the religious and legal Bengali wedding celebration. In this instance, it was a separate event for both the bride’s family and the groom’s family. This means that only a mere fraction of the overall wedding guest list attended – people close to the bride.
In a gaye holud, the groom’s family comes, but without the groom, and brings dessert, food, holud, or red paste, among other things to the bride. Then, after the guests piece by piece feed it all to the bride, the guests enjoy a feast together. Sabrina Apa and I attended jointly, and she helped me put on the blue sari we found for the occasion. I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon such kindness!
As you can see from the picture, Snigdha Apa (in the middle) was decorated and adorned from head to toe. Even her hands were decorated with elaborate and beautiful designs.
The wedding itself was extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the color palette taken advantage of like that, with so many textures and contrasts. Snigdha Apa and her new husband sat on a stage and everyone took turns taking pictures with them. Then, with hundreds of other guests, I enjoyed a meal with a table surrounded by my colleagues to celebrate the new union.
Doesn’t Snigdha Apa look beautiful? And who knew that I’d attend my first wedding in life in Bangladesh?