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city vignette
A weekly pot pouri on urban life by Ershad Khandker

There is a time and a place for everything. Time is winter and the place is a wedding arena, then everything will take place. Characters galore and some stories and tidbits, what a place to be to see vignette unfold. Weddings are a part of winter and the effort to get married is expensive and giving someone off in a wedding is even more so, the cost is borne by the person giving away some member. The choice of venue has become a problem; expensive competition takes place for sections of society to get the best venue for their wards, to make the important day a memorable one.
The difficulty in getting places to host the wedding is acute now. And when you see the rent for a good place to host the wedding, middle class families go on a tailspin, a lifetime of saving seem futile. Once the rent makes the dent, the floodgate is breached and trickle of money leaving the wallet would make the host actually wishing for a tsunmi! Start of with cloths for the bride and groom, and some families give new sets of cloths to the immediate family members as some sort of communal makeover. Finding accommodation for the umpteen guests, some arriving from alien places and usurping the best accommodations.
Transportation, food and entertainment, small gatherings and essential rituals that are little weddings all within the big one! More expenses for this dawat or that, small delegations arriving from the other side, little meetings and dawats and innumerable assemblies of people. There are sessions of ritual merrymaking, certain members of the family with a knack for the arts would be coached to sing and dance, while others would make a song and dance about the whole experience.
The climax is always the most enjoyable experience, however in a wedding who enjoys and how much is hard to understand! Take the wedding last night that your writer attended. There must have been a zillion people there and the effort being put forward to put the best foot forward was painful to see!
The spirit was of giving as much as possible in dressage, revelry and repartee, making and effort to stage your show and upstage the next person in becoming the toast of the dawat. Casual conversation done with aplomb of being a natural center of attraction, as if being in the middle of it all is second nature! Hundreds of people all going through their own vignette of fright and fancy, worrying over who is doing better than thee!
Through this carnage, the senior citizens ay be seen sitting comfortably, having seen it all and feeling like their day is gone and it is for the younger people to have fun. In fact, in some weddings the senior citizens are made to look like spent force with their prime of life over. Only those who are of the immediate family know that the wedding would give them a little bit of time in the limelight, as the obedient and loving would come by to take the blessings.
Food is a health hazard! Lets be unequivocal about that! Greasy and sticky, yet bringing the worst out of some guests. Competition to get ahead in the parade spills over on the table when the food is served. Some guests jostle to be the first to have some food on their plate! The huff and puff of guests resemble the steamy plume rising from the freshly served food. The debate of the standard of cooking is to follow and if the cooking was good then the hosts would be able to make a long lasting impression on the mind of the guests, which is a very big achievement because the hosts would remain in the pantheon of holding successful weddings, forever to be mentioned as shining example.
The main ceremony, the actual giving away would have taken place while all that is going on. The paper work and the ceremonies would take place, either in a different time a day or two before the social function, or it would take place on the day of function, the later being the old fashioned way.
The family members for whom the day means the most, would have seen some very distinct changes take place. The bridal family being in a position of most to worry, after all the girl that one took so much care to raise, so much effort to secure a safe passage to youth and adulthood would now be leaving the coop to start her own life, wholly dependant on the good will of another new family and more crucially on the feeling of a man. The groom would be feeling euphoria and looking forward to making a new start, with the old life gone for good. He would be fazed with uncertainty and yet ready to take the big leap of pleasure and pain.
The are tensions involved while selecting the bride or groom. The questions that are there about choosing bride or groom, either self or by the family can cause some groundswell of emotions to rise and some to be choked and killed -off! There are heartaches and tears involved and anger and angst too. Weddings that involve expatriate families with children that have grown-up abroad and yet expected to live by the mantra of the old country, can see emotions trampled and some amount of coercion enforced to make the wedding take place, as per prerogatives that are distinctly old country.
However when the dust settles, the wedding takes place. The wedding experience is a day where the entire family and clan get an opportunity to come together. Through this din and noise, there is a reaffirmation of the traditions that make the Asian family a joint effort and while the expense involved is a question still thought about and talked about as too much and unproductive at that, the main aim remains the same, to hold a marriage ceremony involving every member of the family who had some thing to do in the upbringing of the bride and groom, and to say thank you to them and seek their blessing and companionship.