I had finally landed in Dhaka after an overnight layover in Dubai. This was the first stop in an end-of-the-year tour of some South Asian countries, and for a special reason. My good friend Sara was getting married, as she and her husband had decided to have their wedding in their country of birth rather than in Toronto. And destination weddings are right up my alley. Along with some other mutual friends from Toronto, we were here to celebrate with Sara and also to ring in the new year. All I had to do was to make my way to Dhaka and come out of customs, everything else would be taken care of by Sara’s family. My first time in Bangladesh, and my first Bengali wedding, as a guest in the bridal home. What followed were a few days of one of the most memorable, unique, and fun trips I had ever been on. This is a photo essay of the wedding ceremonies and festivities.
On the starting day of the wedding festivities, it is traditional Bengali custom for the groom’s side to send a pair of the best fish from that day’s catch, dressed as a man and woman. I got to see the fish arrive in the bridal home. According to tradition, the fish are meant to be cooked and eaten later.
The first evening of the elaborate ceremonies is the Holud, a night of song and dance. It begins as the groom’s side enters, carrying the bride’s wedding outfit, jewelry, decorations, and other gifts. The bride’s side then follows with gifts of their own for the groom. The venue for the Holud was this colorful marquee in Dhaka.
In Islamic tradition, the bride’s veil is lifted and both the bride and groom peer in a mirror, symbolically the first time he lays eyes on her. This is also the moment where he is supposed to say something personal and romantic to her.
The wedding festivities close on the fourth day with a grand reception, where extended family and friends get to meet the married couple, and send off the bride and groom to the groom’s home. Off they go!