Old ideas?
Ranjita Biswas | @twfindia | 26 Aug 2021
Old ideas?

The wedding venue was suitably decorated. Guests were milling around (this was before the Corona- induced lockdown), the shehnai was playing in the background.  The smell of savouries to be served with coffee and soft drink was wafting in the air. Perfect!  Now to congratulate the bride with the gift and you were done with before  greeting friends and acquaintances. But a jolt was waiting- for me, at least. The Bengali bride, getting married to a Bengali groom of her own choice, was decked up in a Bollywood style lehenga in maroon and not in traditional Benarasi saree as befits such an occasion.


Why does  everyone has to look like a bride from a filmy set? A trend  that  seems to creep in across all sections of society.


Before you accuse me of being conservative, and that it’s a woman’s choice what she chooses to wear on her biggest day- and who are you to comment, etc. etc., let me reiterate. I am all for individuality but when  you are going for a traditional Bengali style ceremony and the groom chooses to  wear dhoti- ‘punjabi’, albeit a designer one, the usual way, it jars.


One can choose to wear a salwar suit for a mehendi – a welcome addition to weddings in the eastern parts now trickling down from the north, or even lehenga at a reception but on the wedding day, if performed traditionally with a priest, hom, et al, a traditional dress seems more fitting.


There are other reasons to keep sartorial traditions alive. We often come across reports these days that the silk-weavers of Banaras are moaning about the lack of business and whether they should shut down. The age-old beauty of a Benarasi saree is so prized, as also the Kashmiri shawl, that  mothers often used to pass them on to daughters of these heirlooms. That is, if a daughter prizes  these beauties.


Patronising traditional wear on special occasions- nobody is asking a woman to go around elaborate sarees to a workplace, has the potential of keeping alive a cultural heritage, an identity, of which clothes form a part.


In Assam,  a traditional dress for a bride during the ritual is a set of white silk mekhela sador with  golden butis which is still meticulously followed. Even the  women from the groom’s place and invitees on the occasion of joran- gift giving ceremony to the bride  in the morning prior to the actual wedding,  wear white or cream coloured  mekhela sador, the younger girls perhaps choosing brighter hues but mekhela sador nonetheless.


This tradition has kept the famous weaving skill of Assam alive. Even though costs have jumped due to price hike in silks, the tradition of wearing mekhela sador on special days is still followed.


Just think how beautiful a bride from Kerala looks in her signature white saree with its golden border, her hair decorated with flowers, on the wedding day with nadeswaram playing in the background.


In the same way,  a lehenga for a Punjabi bride seems just right.


One does not have to be judged as sanctimonious while advocating a traditional dress for a traditional social occasion like a wedding. Otherwise you can do away with all these paraphernalia, what say you?