Lives, livelihoods and lifestyle have drastically changed ever since the COVID-19 hit Bangladesh but the pandemic cannot stop social functions like wedding ceremonies.
Initially, marriage, known as the sacred bonding between two human beings - has got heavily affected in Bangladesh in recent times due to this pandemic like never before, but not for long.
The country had gone into apparent lockdown from March 26 last. Since then, people had to shelve themselves inside homes, affecting domestic relationships in some cases.
Though Bangladesh saw a growing trend of domestic disturbances in the initial stage as surveys and reports claim, the number of weddings has increased from the mid-year.
Imran Jayed (Not real name), a travel-agency businessman, tied the knot in late August with his fiancé, Alvira (Not real name).
The 29-year-old man and his 26-year-old newlywed bride had a scheduled wedding plan back in March. They had to postpone the marriage due to the ‘lockdown’. The couple then finally decided to complete their 'Akhdh' in August last and thus shifted it to December, hoping that the situation would get better for attendees to join the ceremony.
Jasmine Mou (Not real name), a 27-year-old corporate affairs officer at a leading multinational company married recently his university senior, Nahian (Not real name), a 30-year-old banker.
Unlike the case of Imran and Alvira, the couple decided to get married in the first week of September with having full-set of ceremonies, including the pre-wedding ones separately at their homes, followed by the 'Akhdh' and the post-wedding reception where they invited a large number of guests and relatives at a convention centre in the capital.
Both the scenarios and case studies have one thing in common that the newlyweds had long been eagerly waiting for tying the knot.
Asked why they got married during the pandemic, people representing the newlywed couples shared interesting perspectives with this correspondent.
“These days, both individuals in a marriage are mostly busy with their jobs or businesses. So, they don’t get much time to enjoy each other’s company after marriage. Many are working remotely from home. Many want us to get married now to avail of the opportunity to spend more time together at home,” said Babu, a newlywed graphics designer currently working for a private television channel.
However, marriage registers (locally known as ‘Kazi’s) are not happy, as the numbers are significantly poor. “I’ve rarely registered marriages in recent times, even though people now have started getting married,” Moulana Khairul at Baridhara Kazi Office, Gulshan Zone.
What experts say
"Marriage is one of the pivotal parts in our societal system, which has been largely affected by this ongoing pandemic like never before. After being in the lockdown for several months, the festivities are slowly resuming as part of 'new normal' in society," Prof Sadeka Halim, Dean of the Social Sciences Faculty of Dhaka University, told UNB.
Talking about the new wave of marriages, Dr Sadeka said, "As elderly people who finalise the family decisions in our societal system, are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus and they are in the higher mortality rate -- so they are also insisting their younger generations to get married as soon as possible after the lockdown got lifted."
"Many of my students are getting married in recent times. Many of them said the pandemic has impacted their perceptions about marriage, and they are now trying to get accustomed to many new realizations regarding their careers and future plans," she added.
Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said wedding ceremonies should be held in a homely atmosphere maintaining all the health protocols keeping in mind the current situation.
Many people are dependent on wedding management-related service providers, including wedding dressmakers, makeover salons and beauty parlours, photographers, flower providers, rental car providers, band parties and as always - the caterers. As one can understand, these business associates went through hard times during the ‘lockdown’ with no extravagant, grandeur event taking place. The norms and rituals of wedding ceremonies are constantly changing!
During a recent visit to different parts of the city, the UNB correspondent found many community centres and convention halls still closed, while some others reopened with special offers and packages to attract people.
Meanwhile, the wedding photography business which also had to undergo losses during the lockdown is hoping to overcome the situation.
“The winter season and a few days right after the Eid-ul-Fitr are the usual festive slots for arranging wedding ceremonies in recent times and we never thought that we would miss any of those occasions due to a deadly pandemic,” Jisan Mirza, co-founder and photographer of the photography agency Cafe Creation, told UNB.
“Whether the pandemic situation improves any time soon or not, it’s clear that potential brides and grooms are getting ready to tie the knot, no matter what,” said Engineer Mujibul Haque who recently joined a wedding ceremony.