Monday, December 22, 2008

Gue Holud

The aromatic scent of tumeric greeted my nostrils as I woke up this morning.

Ah yes, the yellow wedding party.

Rolling over and sitting up, I examined my face in the mirror. Stairing back at me was a unique sight. My forehead was stained a cheerful yellow, my nose had a thin yellow stripe running across its bridge, yet what made me most comical looking was the single yellow eyebrow.

Memories from the night before came flooding back to me.
"I smell like curry!" moaned Gemma, ineffectively attempting to wipe tumeric paste off her face.

"Hmm," I pondered, "It reminds me of those huge sacks of spices in bazaars."

"It smells like celery," decided the practical Joel.We'd just been "holuded" at a pre-wedding party for a Bengali couple we vaguely knew. Gue holuds are traditional in Bengali marriages, and basically involve everyone dressing up in red, orange and yellow sarees (for the women) and white punjabis (for the men), draping themselves in marigolds, then smearing fragrant tumeric paste on the bride and groom's faces. The bride and groom return the favor by rubbing it on the guests, consequently causing an all out face-smearing-riot amongst guests and the bridal party.

Last year I'd attended a gue holud, but knew few people at the party. I'd been excited to attend this party because I knew many of the Bengali guests. Ironically, it turns out with these kinds of parties the fewer people you know, the better.

At my first yellow soiree the groom had given me a polite dab of goo on my cheek and that had been that, but at this gathering everyone I knew felt it their duty to vigorously apply gooey paste to every inch of my face. Not once, not twice, but three times I figured the fun was over and removed the crushed tumeric from my face. Without fail a friend would see my clean face and gleefully rub more on my face, thinking he was doing me a favor.After an hour of this huge vats of spicy goat curry finally arrived and a Bengali man began stalking around the shamiana shouting "bawsen, bawsen, bawsen [sit]!" Until the oddly colored guests were all safely sitting with their yellow stained hands at their sides. Steaming plates of curry and chepati were passed around and the finger painting ended.

All in all it was a fun experience. Luckily we are on Christmas holidays at school and I did not have to face my students with a brightly painted face this morning. My house mate assured me last night that tumeric has healing astringent qualities for your skin, but this failed to comfort me as I wondered how to get this stuff of my face. Finally I opted for a long swim in the pool in the hopes that the chlorine would at least fade it to a more mellow yellow.

1 comment:

  1. What? No pictures??? ARGH!!! This is a must-see!

    I love when you write of these things. A cool glimpse into something so alien to me.