Today I’m featuring a photograph taken during a Bengali Hindu Wedding by Justine Kibler from the Lost In The Midlands Blog.
Justine is a writer and photographer from the UK, in love with the outdoors, crazy adventures, islands, and offbeat places.
Photo Story: Bengali Hindu Wedding
As I went to my bedroom I caught the sound of wild music drifting through my open windows. Nights in rural Bangladesh were usually calm and stiflingly humid but this one felt different.
It was the start of a Hindu wedding ceremony, I found out soon after through my host sister’s broken English. And we were invited.
There were masses of people milling around in one area, people eating rice in another, and a band was playing music so unusual it felt like another language too.
In the middle of the madness was a tiny temple area where the ceremony was about to take place. As the only foreigner – or ‘bideshi’ as they’re called in Bengali – I was given front row seats to the wedding, and by front row I mean within touching distance.
I could see everything; the gold stitching on their clothes, the henna patterns on the bride’s hands, and also their emotions.
It would be wrong to say that the bride was happy.
As the ceremony continued I could see that she was becoming increasingly upset. At one point she burst into tears and grasped onto the priest. The family pried the distraught bride off him and the ceremony continued.
This photo was taken a few minutes later. She had composed herself somewhat, but was still visibly distressed, the groom in the foreground (he is not allowed to look at her at this point).
An old lady, who I guessed to be her grandmother or someone similar, places a ‘mukut’ on her, a crown symbolising good luck that must be worn during the ceremony.
This moment seemed to capture the solemn feeling of the wedding, and as soon as the shaft of light hit her face and the disassociated hand holding the crown, I knew I had a shot to remember.
I asked my host sister why she had been crying, and whether it was normal. Apparently, it’s not unusual in arranged marriages such as this one.
She explained that the bride can get upset because she will now be leaving her family and her old life, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more to it than that.
Bengali Hindu Wedding refers to Bengali wedding with Hindu rites and rituals.
A traditional wedding is arranged by Ghotoks (matchmakers), who are generally friends or relatives of the couple.
The matchmakers facilitate the introduction among the family and the prospective bride and groom.
Bengali weddings are traditionally in four parts: the bride’s Gaye Holud, the groom’s Gaye Holud, the Beeye and the Bou Bhaat. These often take place on separate days.
The first event in a wedding is an informal one: the groom presents the bride with a ring marking the “engagement”, a system which is gaining popularity.
There can be subtle differences in Bengali Hindu marriages in West Bengal and Bangladesh. The rituals sometimes differ.
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