18th June 2000
By Ayesha R. Rafiq
As a little girl you dress up and play 'getting married'. Amma's shawl, an assortment of flowers from the garden, one of Amma's long blouses, a pair of her high heeled shoes and a red stick of lipstick rubbed over every spare inch of your face usually do for your wedding outfit. Several years later however you're rushing around trying on lace trimmed shoes, gippio lace dresses, gauzy veils and rushing for make-up trials as you prepare for your big day.
As you enlist your mother's support for your wedding and rush around with her, she's bound to tell you how different things were way back then. How much more family oriented and less commercial a wedding was in her day. (Of course beware, this may be a ploy to reduce your spending spree.) And you're sure to get thinking about how you can bring in a little bit of that era into your wedding, your own version of 'something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue'. Maybe a last effort to tie in your old life with your new one.
The Mirror Magazine decided to find out just how modern, girls nowadays want to get with their weddings and how much old traditions mean to the modern generation.
While most girls see their weddings as the first step towards a new life, for one 21-year-old it was more a closing of a chapter, while she would have the rest of her life to celebrate the new chapter being opened. "My biggest thrill on my wedding day was walking down the aisle on my father's arm to meet my husband, in the same sari that my father walked my mother to their new life which was to be a blissfully happy one". Yes, 25 years after her parents married she proudly wore her mother's wedding sari as she stepped into her new life.
For 27-year-old Harshi Basnayake it was the traditions that she wanted to stick to. She was determined to involve as many friends and family as possible in the actual preparation towards the big day, which was to be held at home. She got the wedding cake made at home, exactly like her mom did, while many of her aunts helped in sewing the night dresses and she together with her cousins made drinks day in and day out for the visitors. "I actually helped to polish the floors, just like Amma told me she did for her wedding" and a whole troupe of nieces and nephews helped in wrapping the cake. "I replicated everything my mother told me about her wedding preparations and my advice to anyone getting married is, do things the old way. It may be a big mess but it's tonnes of fun".
But bear in mind, sentiments like these are few and far between. A majority of the girls said the last thing they wanted was an old fashioned wedding with the hustle and bustle and too many cooks spoiling the soup. A popular 'do-away' were the opinion givers who usually have something to say about everything. "If there is one thing I'm sure I'll be able to do without when I'm getting married is the hundreds of aunts who feel everything could have been done differently if only they had been consulted, so I'm not going to tell them what I'm wearing or show them my trousseau or anything, unlike my mom who thinks it should be done," says 16-year-old Rehana Jamaldeen.
Many also felt that the old tradition of hand delivering invitations to the invitees and ensuring that the elders received them first were far fetched. "It takes up a lot of your time and is not practical when travelling takes so long, people work late and live far away and besides, when you post invitations nobody can complain that their invitation was given after so and so got theirs", is 19-year-old Niroshi Attygalle's emphatic view.
"One thing I'm definitely going to do is have a wedding gift list, never mind what people say" is the first thing that came to 18-year-old Sonali Ratnayake's mind. " I remember my mother telling me that she ended up with more clocks, tea sets and serving trays than she knew what to do with, and I just don't understand why people didn't have the guts then to tell people what they wanted. I'm going to list the things I really need and show it to anybody who asks me what I want. That way I won't end up with a lot of unwanted junk".
Among the other things the girls felt they could do without were traditional customs like the wedding breakfasts and lunches and dinners, staying at the bride's or bridegroom's house on the night of the wedding instead of setting off on the honeymoon straight away, wedding visits to houses of people they didn't even know, and consulting the elders with regard to every aspect of the wedding.
One can hardly be blamed for wanting to move away from the traditional to the modern to ensure minimum hassle and complications. But at the same time one can't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia that all that has been passed down from generation to generation is slowly disappearing and that the emphasis on the family wedding is fading away.
By Aditha Dissanayake
"You are his favourite," says my brother with great emphasis. "Well you are her favorite," I retort with equal emphasis. We are talking about our parents. We are wondering whom they love the most. But we dare not ask them. We know they would dismiss the question by telling us to stop "talking nonsense and take the dog out for a walk".
Physically I am a mini-version of him, minus the beard. I need no introduction when I meet people who know my father. They take one look at me and know I am his daughter. There was once a time, when, as a teenager I gazed into the mirror and wished I had inherited my mother's fair skin and pointed nose. "But you have got his eyes which are beautiful," she would tell me. A small consolation, when I had to keep them behind two huge spectacles every waking hour of the day!
We share the same passion for boiled jakfruit, kola kanda and green-gram (while my mother and brother go in for cornflakes and Nescafe)
My father's word is law at home, when my mother agrees. And my mother's word is law, when my father agrees. Power is balanced. Everybody shares the household chores. My father makes tea in the morning and does the ironing. My brother praises himself for making the best omelettes in the world. Cooking is mostly under my mother's control. But washing-up afterwards, keeping the house tidy and watering the plants are done by anybody who happens to be free.
Yet there are certain laws set by my father which no living soul dare break. When he comes home from work, the daily paper has to be on the sitting room table, neatly folded with all the pages intact. Dead silence when the television news bulletins are on. And he is the one who should have the remote control if he is seated in front of the TV. He allows my mother to watch all her numerous teledramas but changes to other channels whenever there is a commercial break. One second of Larry King, glimpses of an old cricket match, a pop song, an advertisement for mosquito coils, a panel discussion and then my mother says the teledrama must have started by now. Sure enough a good three minutes are over.
I feel I am lucky to have a father who gives me a poster of my favourite pop star on my 14th birthday. Telling him that I think Mr. So-and-So is marvellous is no problem. And when that very Mr. So-and-So asks me to marry him, my father will be the first to know and to approve.
I remember, when I was small and when we lived at Unawatuna, my father taking me to the beach on Sunday afternoons. I enjoyed having him to myself for my brother who has no great partiality towards salt water would remain at home. He stood watching me as I played in the shallow water. So far as the waves were small I was happy. But when a large one would begin to form in the horizon I would panic, run to him and cling to his arms.
My childhood is over now. The time has come to stand on my own feet. But wherever I might end up in the world, deep, deep down I would always be the little girl who came running to my father on those long ago Sundays on the beaches of Unawatuna. In my mind I would always be clinging to his hand.
But these are thoughts I have kept to myself. In our day-to-day lives my father and I hardly notice each other. We take one another for granted. That is why I am going to hide the Mirror Mag before he reads this. No point in telling him something he already knows. That I love him.
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