Arts, Culture & Media

An American teacher in India enjoys the traditions of a Bengali wedding


Adizah and friends attend a traditional Bengali wedding in Kolkata


Adizah Eghan

I’m Adizah Eghan and I’m looking for a city where the wedding season is in full swing and where you can find a bride covering her face with a betel leaf, or married women blowing out of a conch shell.

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Can you name this city?

I’ve been busy attending a lot of weddings. One of my friend’s sisters and two teachers from the school I teach at also got married.

I first went to the haldi ceremony, a very intimate experience that takes place in the morning before the wedding. It’s the bride and her family, and they have married women go around the bride and put turmeric on her face.

Turmeric has a very strong yellow color. It’s very bright and, this particular turmeric, is supposed to come from the groom’s house. The women put the turmeric on the bride's face, as well as other women in the room — sort of like catching the bouquet. The whole idea is we’ll be next — we’ll getting married soon.

And then I got to witness the blowing of the conch shell, which is the great sound of celebration in Kolkata. It’s usually blown by a married woman. They do it when the bride is proceeding to see her groom for the first time. The bride is carried by her brothers and then she covers her face with a betel leaf. When she finally removes the betel leaf, there’s a sweet moment, called shubho drishti, when the bride and groom look into each other’s eyes. Everyone is cheering and crowding around — everyone wants to see this moment. There was just so much joy.

That was the greatest thing, just having people excited to share this experience with me, and making me feel like I belonged there. Whenever I go back to work after a wedding and I go to the teacher’s lounge, and they ask me how the wedding was, I always talk about romance. It’s very contagious and someone usually suggests, "You should find a nice Bengali boy and stay in Kolkata forever!"

Of course, that makes me very flustered and giggly because for now I’m happy being single, teaching English at a school in the great city of Kolkata. That’s the answer to the Geo Quiz. 

Adizah Eghan is a Fullbright-Nehru English Teaching Assitant in Kolkata, India. Tweet to Adizah. If you want pitch your own Geo Quiz, send it along to:

Additional files


Me with all the teachers that sit at our table in the teacher’s lounge.


Adizah Eghan