Lives, livelihoods and lifestyles have been drastically changed ever since Bangladesh got affected by the global pandemic of COVID-19. As a result, marriage, known as the sacred bonding between two human beings - has also got heavily influenced in Bangladesh in recent times, due to this pandemic like never before.
The country went into the lockdown mode from the ending of March and since then, people had to be shelved themselves inside their homes - so the domestic relationships have also been impacted. While the earlier periods of quarantined Bangladesh observed an increasing rate of domestic disturbances according to surveys and reports - the number of weddings has been increased from mid-year.
Case Study 1:
Imran, a travel-agency businessman, has recently been married in late August with his fiance Alvira. The 29-years-old Imran and his 26-years-old newlywed bride Alvira has a scheduled wedding plan back in March - however, due to the lockdown, they had to postpone the marriage. The couple then finally decided to complete the 'Akhdh' in August alongside deciding to re-schedule the reception programme, thus shifting it to December, hoping that the situation would get better for attendees to join the ceremony.
Case Study 2:
Mou, a 27-years-old corporate affairs officer at a leading multinational company has recently tied the knot to her lover and university senior Naim, a 30-years-old banker. Unlike the aforementioned 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 programmes separately at their houses, followed by the 'Akhdh' and the post-wedding reception programme where they invited guests and relatives at a convention centre in the capital.
Both of these scenarios and case studies have one similarity that the newlyweds have been eagerly waiting for tying the knot, as they needed to wait even longer due to the lockdown duration. Upon asking the reason for getting married during the ongoing pandemic, people representing the newlywed couples shared interesting perspectives with this correspondent.
"Nowadays both individuals in a marriage are mostly occupied with jobs or businesses, thus they do not get much time to enjoy each other's company after marriage. Maximum of the jobs and businesses followed 'work from home' guidelines during the lockdown and post lockdown era, people like us are marrying to utilize the opportunity to spend more time together at home", - Babu, a newlywed graphics designer currently working for a private television channel, shared his perspective on getting married during the pandemic.
However, the marriage registers (locally known as the 'Kazi's) are not happy with the number of people opting for marriage in recent times, as the numbers are significantly poor. "I have rarely registered marriages in recent times, even though people are now starting to get married again. In my lifetime I have never seen a scenario like this, probably nobody has seen either since the Liberation War in 1971. I used to register multiple marriages a day before the lockdown, now I rarely register a marriage in a day", Maolana Khairul from the Baridhara Kazi Office (Gulshan Zone), told DC.
What experts are saying on the scenario:
"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 again slowly getting started as part of the 'new normalcy' in the society", Professor Dr Sadeka Halim, Dean of the Social Science Faculty of Dhaka University told DC.
Talking about the new wave of marriages, she said: "As the elderly people, who finalize 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 the recent times and as per the reasons, a majority portion said that the pandemic has impacted their perceptions on marriage, and they are now trying to getting married to get accustomed with many new realizations regarding their careers and future plans. And, interestingly, the fear of death due to COVID-19 has also been thriving them towards taking this major step as early as possible."
How are the associated businesses and event management associates doing?
The norms and rituals of wedding ceremonies have been constantly changing in recent years, and many people are now being financially dependent on the wedding management related services 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 have passed hard times during the lockdown with no extravagant, grandeur event taking places.
Many community centres and convention halls are still remaining close since the beginning of the lockdown, while some of these have reopened with special offers and packages to make people enthusiast to arrange programmes at these venues.
Meanwhile, the wedding photography business which also had to undergo losses due to a huge amount of potential clients dismissal during the lockdown is also 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 core photographer of the photography agency Cafe Creation, told DC.
"Slowly the business is getting revived again, though at a very minimal speed. I used to shoot multiple weddings a day while now, it's not every day but every week. People were becoming less extravagant and less enthusiast about wedding photoshoots after the lockdown began - thankfully now, the scenario is getting improved and we are hopeful to regain more clients in the remaining winter season", he added.
Whether the pandemic situation gets improved in the winter or not - it is clear that the potential brides and grooms are becoming ready to tie the knots with the blessings from their dear ones and also from these above-mentioned businesses - alongside adopting the new normals during these unprecedented time of corona.
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