Dressing the Bride

This painting depicts a marriage ceremony in a Bengali village. In Bengali villages a wedding ceremony involves the whole village community and each person puts in his or her efforts to make the ceremony a success. Their simple and pure love for each other prompts them to help each other readily, without caring about what they will receive in return.

In this work, I have shown the bride in the center looking at herself in a hand held mirror while the other women of the village are busy making arrangements for the ceremony. A marriage ceremony is a holy occasion for people in India. The ceremony is conducted by a priest in front of a small pyre – fire being considered the symbol of truth. The pyre is surrounded by pots bearing the sign of the swastika, which is a holy sign.

Mango leaves and a green coconut are placed on each of the pots, which symbolize prosperity and holiness. Floral designs are used to adorn the ceremonial pedestal. It is a moment for joy and mirth for all of the people of the village, especially when they think of the ceremonial feast.

The women in this painting are seen doing a variety of things. One of them is combing the hair of the bride, one is decorating pots and an old grandmother is covering the head of the bride with a red saree. The banana tree is an integral part of the ceremony. I have tried to portray the joy of the ceremony and the wonderful feeling of love that human beings have for one another.

Essay and art: Himanish Das, age 15, West Bengal, 1989