My colours of the festival
Recently, at an iftar party a friend of mine was trying to crack a joke on the usual Ramadan traffic. Being half famished at that hour, I could hardly get her punch line but from whatever I could decipher, I understood that people from villages and muffassil towns are flocking the city to shop for Eid.
I found nothing out of the ordinary there, if the have-nots could flock the city to earn a few quick bucks before the big festival, then why not the other half for spending theirs? After all, these trifle matters revolving around fashion, style, trends, grooming, become the nerve centre of the economy around this time.
They come to order tailor-made clothes, to check out the shops we write about in our magazines, and to get that exact dress their fancy caught, while browsing through all those Eid fashion magazines.
In fact, this spirit of celebration is infectious; it gets us too. I wanted to see the exact jamdani sari motif a shop revived this time around. I wanted to see if I could get that exact shalwar kameez I saw the model wearing, for my child. I mean, banking on these small desires and fancies, we run our magazines.
You see, Eid highlights a totally different aspect in our otherwise claustrophobic 9 to 5 lives. We certainly crib that the old flavours of Eid are lost and the colours of bygone times are blurred, yet we go through all the motions without enthusiasm, almost like programmed machines.
We hurry scurry to the markets, in spite of promising for the umpteenth time, not to do anything 'special' this year. We plead with our tailors to stitch a blouse or a kameez, run to the embroiderer to border the chiffon in zardozi. Just name it; we do it all. We change the curtains; get the flowers, stock food like there is no tomorrow, and stuff friends and family like those turkeys on Thanksgiving. Yet we say Eid is no longer as colourful as it was when we were children. I say you cannot buy these colours; you have to feel them.
For me, I simply want to hold on to that fun factor, which is now dangling dangerously on a flimsy thread, threatened by inflation and so many other social factors. 'Festival' means colours and all the wild, bold flavours of the season. While I was prop hunting for this shoot in the dinghy bazaar behind Mohakhali with Star Lifestyle fashion and style consultants Maheen Khan and Farzana Shakil, we were like small girls ecstatic with everything we saw. In fact we would not have had such kicks if we were to shop at any of the big flashy malls.
The place was buzzing with activity; the rows were stacked with unbelievable colours of fuchsia, turquoise, tangerine, in silks, chiffons, katans, and all available at quite reasonable prices. The shops were full of ornamental shoes, children's clothing, cosmetics, jewelleries and household essentials. Young working girls or families flock to this place for their eid goodies and get everything at a good bargained price. You could just get all excited and lively by simply standing there soaking in the vibe. Men sipping tea, going for those meaningless debates that almost always lead to a scuffle; children ogling at us as if we looked like their Martian cousins; these were all part and parcel of the day. We were oblivious to all the oddities and basking in the pleasure.
The 'bluu' kathan, Chinese 'elow' silk, the sequined bridal dupatta were things we bargained hard for. The shopkeeper trying his utmost to please by flashing his betel leaf stained smile, asking the assistant to turn on the generator, and at the same time trying his best to fleece us. Looking for the right fabric for the petticoats and other accessories all made me realize that this is the kind of Eid bazaar which still has that long lost colour and flavour of the yester years' festivals; one that we crave for when we step into our upscale shops, where salespersons are grumpy, things are overpriced and there is no sense of pleasure at spending your hard-earned money.
One of my favourite Eid day entertainments is to look at what others are wearing. Believe me, it makes my day. I feel overjoyed specially to see the girls working in the garments factories. Their empowerment bought them freedom. They roam in groups wearing the most fashionable colours, with fancy tailor made blouses with strings at the back, high heels with embroidered borders and stones, red or blue bags, riding the rickshaw having fuchka and jhalmuri or ice cream. Their beaux dressed equally in gaudy disco shirts, flirting and buying peanuts or balloons, trying to woo the ladies. It's all so fun to watch and imagine the stories behind the scenes.
These are the true colours of the festival. Come to think of it, our flocking to Rupnagar for jamdani or Neelkomal Bashak for Tangail saris or just on the spur of the moment flying off to Kolkata is all about colours too and it does give us equal amount of pleasure.
I want to wear something others will not; in this very thought lies the fun of the festival. I know people who still lock their clothes away, not revealing to friends before Eid day.
That reminds me of my childhood days. I waited till chaand raat to buy my sandals from Elephant road. Wearing my chaand raat new dress, my hands tattooed red with henna, I insisted on a rickshaw ride with my father to Elephant road. He would buy me glass bangles and all sorts of trinkets to go with my eid dresses. I remember a particular pendant, which was a tiny bunch of deep purple glass grapes with a dark green glass leaf. I loved that cute trinket and those terracotta beads strings from Aarong, that half eaten apple pendant, that glass red chilli choker.
This year I am all geared towards a happy, colourful Eid, and I have had set the wheels at motion from Shab-e-barat, when I simply drove up to Chawk bazaar to get my favourite 'crocodile' bread and green, orange, yellow halwai bites. Snippets such as these from my memories are the colours of my festival that I want to replicate year in, year out. I have changed as age demands, but I want to keep that child inside me alive.
By Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Abu Naser
Makeup: Farzana Shakil
Styling: Maheen Khan
Model: Kabita, Shirly, Nawrin
Location: The Westin, Dhaka
Special thanks to Mahbubur Rahman, Director of Communications, The Westin, Dhaka.