As a Bangladeshi, what would be someone's point of attraction in a wedding ceremony here? Well, most people go because of the delicacies to be served, some for collecting a stash of glowing pictures for their social media, and some to shower the couple with their blessings and love. One has to invite a good number of guests, regardless of familiar or not so familiar, only to maintain social stature and tradition as it goes, "the more, the merrier." But, how feasible it is to have merriment from people who are almost strangers or possibly someone's fifth cousin- is never thought of seriously.
As the calendar is near to the preferred wedding season, the winter-- which is chosen by most of the families for a wedding ceremony as it offers suitable weather to run wedding errands-- large gathering trends seem to be changing this time. Social distancing has become a crucial safety measure in this pandemic-hit situation, making people think twice before arranging a large gathering wedding. Also, many marriage ceremonies scheduled earlier-- from low budget to the grandest ones-- had to be put on hold since lockdown began.
However, many weddings are being held too amid the lockdown situation, and a novelty is noticed among those. Many couples decided to tie the knot with few family members and some close friends physically present. These ceremonies are being held inside the house or on the rooftop with little decorations by the family members, homemade meals and other homely stuff. These small-budget weddings cost nothing compared to the ones used to be held previously. Saving money and time through these intimate marriage ceremonies is a win-win as no family has to take up a wedding loan that they would have been spending their whole life repaying. Also, the newlyweds can spare some money to set up their new household, invest on their future plans or just put it in a savings account. This is a big step towards normalising small scale weddings as money spent on a wedding ceremony shouldn't be a yardstick for social stature.
Weddings like these are generally attended by closest relatives and friends, making the events very close to heart to the bride and groom. The involvement of only the nearest ones bestows genuine love to the newlywed and makes it more meaningful than a wedding with thousands of guests. Here, one might think about the very familiar picture at a grand scale wedding of the invitees judging the arrangements openly. From convention halls, decorations, food to the bride's dress and ornaments-- everything becomes just another topic to gossip to a section of guests. Even the brightest décor and the most delicious food is not enough for some.
Nevertheless, as weddings are also one of the best occasions to meet distant relatives, people sure miss out on those gatherings. The festivities are sometimes just excuses to light up some fairy lights and indulge in the celebration with distant relatives, friends and other familiar ones.
A real-life story can tell the tale about how the young generation feels about this kind of marriage ceremony. Ifrit Zahin, the owner Karuzatra met Salehin Kazi, another entrepreneur from Dhaka, at a coffee house on one fine evening. The duo from mathematics department of Dhaka University decided to get married this year and changed their plan of destination wedding to a simple one due to COVID-19 situation. With few family members and friends joining the ceremony, it was beyond their expectations. Zahin exclaimed with joy saying, "This might not be the wedding we had in mind but it definitely was something that made both of us very happy- without needless exaggeration and with love from our dearest ones. No gifts and no fake smiles, made us happy genuinely. We had some of our friends join us through a Zoom meeting, even my brother!"
Weddings are mostly considered one of the most memorable events in people's lives. But the pandemic taught almost everyone across the globe, how simplicity and intimacy without pretence can be an option as well. Though small scale weddings are being embraced by people of every social status for now, the question remains if the cost-efficient and plain weddings stand a chance ahead of the temptations from the lavish, old-fashioned ones. Is homely the new normal or the big fat weddings going to be back in vogue soon?
The writer is a second year student of journalism at Dhaka University. She can be reached at [email protected]