Last week, Azri and I received an invitation to a wedding reception from Suman, someone Azri works with. I fret a little because I didn’t have anything to wear. I know I always complained to Azri that I have nothing to wear, but really, I seriously had nothing to wear for the event. “Ugh, should have brought like baju kurung or a long dress or something!” I grumbled to Azri as I looked through my heap of casual clothes. He laughed at me and then proceeded to google a factory outlet called Brand Factory (very creative, I know) for me to shop at. So sweet and resourceful, my husband 😀
You can find international (e.g. Nike, Converse, Puma, etc.) and local brands at Brand Factory. Because we were running short of time, we didn’t get to look at the former; Focus was on Indian formal wear for ladies. We scoured through the many racks, most either look too casual or absolutely ugly. I tried the presentable ones on, and we agreed on an olive kurta made by Mother Earth. YAY, got something to wear liao!
(Sidetrack a little: So I read on this Mother Earth company and it pleased me to know that it’s a social enterprise run by two Indian women. They “believe in providing great quality goods while nurturing the environment, and building on the strengths of marginalized rural communities to create sustainable livelihoods and overall prosperity.” It’s nice to know that I’m supporting an NGO. Anyway, you can read more on their Facebook, if interested.)
The wedding reception took place on Thursday. It started at 6pm and could go as late as 2am. Azri made plans with some of his colleagues to attend it at 8.30pm. But my goodness, traffic on the way there was so bad, we only reached at 9.00pm. Thankfully, the rest were stuck in the same jam, else I’d feel horrible to make people wait. Anyway, Azri introduced me to them and we headed up to the hall. (I regret not taking photos of the decoration outside! They were lovely!)
Left: The newly weds and us; Right: Deepayan’s wife, Gitanjali, and me
Before we met Suman and his bride, one of the guys, Deepayan, passed us the empty but fancy envelop for our wedding gift. He also instructed that I should be the one giving the gift to the bride. And I did as told. The bride, Gitanjali, was so gorgeous and cheerful and funny, and I was just so delighted to be in her presence! Because this was a reception and not the actual wedding (which happened the day before), there were more interactions between the newly weds and guests, which is superb 🙂 Also, I adore Gitanjali’s sari – its vibrant colours and sweet designs were ermahgerd!
Deepayan later shared with us that the custom of dowry is not very popular now. Only staunch people follow through it, and the amount can go up to an exorbitant amount of 50 lakhs (approximately SGD109,500)! I told him about the current and common Malay custom of duit hantaran (price bride) in Singapore, which comes up to an average amount of SGD10,000. He was shocked and grateful that he’s not part of the community. LOL. But we told him that like us, people can choose not to practice it. (FYI, dowry = women gifting money to men; duit hantaran = men gifting money to women.)
Another tradition that is usually done during Malay weddings is exchanging of gifts between bride and groom. (“Usually” because we didn’t do this also.) Items, such as shoes, clothes, religious items, and more for the new partners will be presented on dulang (trays) and showcased to guests. For the Indians here, gifts are similarly placed on decorated trays. But what sets them different is the gifts are not just for the spouse, they’re for different family members too.
Here are the gifts from the bride to the groom and his family. (The bride and her family received gifts the day before.) I’m not sure if you can see, but each of them are numbered and the tray at the corner of the room will have the information on which gifts are for whom. It was refreshing to learn this – they seem to understand and embrace that marriage consists of spouse and spouse’s family.
Clockwise: Mutton biryani, paneer (Indian tofu), stuffed puri, fried fish.
(Not in photo, but was my favourite sweet of the night: Baked rosogolla)
Later, we ate too much food and had a merry time till midnight. I’m glad that the five people we were with were so welcoming and very chatty. (I regret not taking photos with/of them also, heh.) There are more things they had taught me about Kolkata and its culture, but I think that can wait for a future post…