Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 45, Tuesday November 18, 2008



special feature
Frugality and festivity

Tansum chowdhury, 24, teacher at an English Medium school in Dhaka, is all set to get married to her high school sweetheart in December this year. Both their parents approved their relationship at an early age, and it was only a matter of time that their love would culminate in marriage. “It has been a long wait. When we fell in love we hardly understood what 'marriage' was all about, but our relationship has stood the test of time,” says Tansum with a sense of pride.

The plans for the Big Day are elaborate. The Chowdhury-Rahman wedding is expected to cost a staggering million takas. This is what Masud has to say, 'I don't think we are going for an extravagant wedding. Of course it could have been cheaper, but I could also have rented Darbar Hall and blown the affair truly out of proportion.'

Tansum shares a similar thought, 'I am looking for a unique wedding and I am trying to make the best out of the stipulated budget. It's the single most important thing in the lives of two people and I am doing everything I can to share it with my family and friends.'

Big weddings are not too uncommon these days. The winter chill seems to bring in a season of festivity in countless families. Wedding budgets in an average middle class family now circle around the million takas mark, and with the rising price of gold, the budget is only set to push its upper limit.

Nasrin Chowdhury happily agreed when her daughter suggested a joint holud. “Tansum and Masud have an extensive list of friends. They want to share the fun and frolic with them. The joint holud not only allows a significant reduction of the wedding budget but it is also less of a hassle.”

The idea is not new. This has been observed as the current trend. As Nasrin Chowdhury indicated it does reduce the cost, and if the guest list can be kept to the minimum, it does offer the prospect of a significant decrease in the wedding budget.

'I hired a florist to do the holud stage. It's costing around Tk 20,000. The menu is kept to a minimal tehari. To give a 'carnival' look we are bringing jhalmuri wala, fuchka cart, and a jilebi maker to the holud. There will be a kaleidoscope for the children and also candy floss.

A friend of mine is bringing a professional photographer. It's his gift for my wedding I could not have been happier. And of course there is the band.' says Tansum.

Her mother, however does not share the same enthusiasm. “I don't see the point in making such an elaborate plan for the holud. I had suggested a cheaper venue, and a simpler stage. The holud card could have been simpler and yes, the photographer could have been one of her friends instead of the expensive professional they are bringing. I could have cut down at least 25-30 thousand takas in the areas I just mentioned.”

When asked if the same could have been arranged at home, Nasrin replied “I couldn't have handled the affair. The invitee list is way too big for a homely wedding. And contrary to what everyone thinks, it would not have been cheaper. We simply couldn't cut down on the guests and the food would have cost the same. Considering the decoration charges and the logistics that community centres have to offer, they are easily the preferred choice.”

The Tansum-Masud wedding will take place at the Eskaton Ladies' Club. Near to home, and considerably cheaper than other centres, Nasrin Chowdhury plans to play host to near eight hundred people. “I have relatives in my family who have looked forward to the wedding ceremony of my eldest daughter. There is simply no way of not inviting them. And then there are people Tansum have come across at work, school and university. Although the guest list seems exceedingly long, I simply could not accommodate.”

Tansum is not unhappy. “I have always wanted a grand wedding. And I am having one.”

The notion of entertaining 500 plus guests in a homely setting is out of the question. Asked why they have not opted for a joint reception, as they have done with the holud, Tansum says, “It is our family tradition.”

Traditions and customs are for the people. We must forsake mores that play hindrance to life and society as a whole. Today, it is near impossible for a middle class family to arrange a wedding within financial means. We spend more than we can, simply because we want more than we should.

The days of the homely wedding are long gone where each member, even the extended family played a significant role. We have seen the holud culture undergo an Indian influence in the order of singing and dancing. The 'emotional and loving' holud is now gone. We have also observed the advent of the mehendi raat on a grander scale than it was before.

Families end up spending more sans the emotional attachment. Why can't we have more of joint receptions, as we do for holuds? Breaking the expenditure right down the middle will not only come as a sigh of relief for the two families but will also ensure 'staying within limits'.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo Courtesy: Farzana Shakil's Hair and Makeover Salon



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