This past Saturday, I went to Detroit with my parents and grandparents for my cousin and his fiancee's Gaye Holud. It's a traditional Bengali pre-marriage ceremony. According to my uncle, in traditional arranged marriages the bride and the groom often meet for the first time at the Holud. The entire ceremony is about the uniting of the two families. There's lots of gift exchanging, all of it meant to symbolize that the bride's family shall take care of the groom, and the groom's family shall take care of the bride.
Both my cousin, Matt, and his fiancee, Romey, processed into the ceremony under canopies. He followed a procession of all his present family; she followed a procession of all unmarried friends and women in her family.
Once the groom and the bride processed into the ceremony, they were seated in fancy chairs--thrones of sorts--under a larger canopy and surrounded by foods and gifts. While they sat in their seats of honor, guests were invited to bless the couple by putting a bit of turmeric on their foreheads and feeding them something sweet.
Romey's mom was gracious enough to outfit Matt's entire family in traditional garb. That means that I got to wear the sari I purchased while in India in January 2007. I have to say, for a group of very white people unused to things like saris and tunics, we ended up looking pretty good.
Note to everyone: partying is a sari is rather comfortable. You know, for future reference.