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Gitanjali Wedding Festival 2012

The wedding season has officially kicked off and is running in full swing. The hype surrounding the season is now at its fullest, given that one of the most elegant wedding festivals in our country, The Gitanjali Wedding Festival 2012, has just been completed. The three-day festival took place from 8 November, 2012 to 10 November, 2012 from 10am to 10pm everyday. Fashion shows were held on all three days, from 7pm to 8pm.

After organising the first instalment of the event successfully last year, Sash Limited, the sole distributors of Gitanjali Jewelry in Bangladesh, and Momentum Event Management Limited came together once again to bring to the city dwellers a second edition of the Gitanjali Wedding Festival. With The Westin Dhaka as the hospitality partner, the Gitanjanli Wedding Festival 2012 provided one-stop wedding solutions for prospective brides and grooms with stalls sprawled over the Westin South Park and fashion shows held at the Westin Ball Room.

Essentially, it was like any other fair except for the elegance and excitement of upcoming weddings in the air. Held under the open sky at the open area next to the tall Westin building, the event hosted stalls that served one or more of your wedding needs: trousseau, jewellery, designer wear, décor, hospitality management, entertainment, exotic honeymoon destinations, wedding planning services, henna artists, invitation cards, wedding photography and more. There were more than sixty stalls that participated in the festival.

Event management and wedding planning firms such as Moments Wedding and Events Ltd. and Shahjahan Wedding Planner & Event Management Ltd. had pavilions with Shahajahan having a full-fledged decorated stage to give a real wedding feel to the venue. Florists, stage designers and dala design firms included Pushponir, Ikebena, Rafibaz and Sygmaz among others. Coopers' showcased its designer cake brand, Singature Cakes, at the fair where their stall had samples of fabulous wedding cakes. Westin's in-house wedding section was also present at the fair.

Paper Studio, which has made quite a name for itself for its unique, innovative and increasingly sought after invitation card designs, displayed some of its best works at the festival. For cinematography and photography, Wedding Diary, also an event management firm and Bridal Moments had stalls up for visitors to browse.

Weddings can never be complete without clothes. Dozens of well-known clothing and accessory stores displayed their best collections including Ogaan, featuring Indian designs from Ritu Kumar, Mohit Kapoor, Kavita Vineeta and Mahesh Veera, Ena la Mode, Empress, online store Kapor Chopor and Andeem.

At the heart of the festival, and indeed the venue itself, Gitanjali had an entire hut to itself in the middle of the South Park ground with some of their best designs in rings, earrings, bangles and lockets. A 25% discount was also offered on all jewellery at the fair.

The three day fair was inaugurated by Sohana Rouf Chowdhury, owner and Managing Director of Sash Limited, Azeem Shah, General Manager of The Westin Dhaka, Kanize Afroze Shumi, owner of Ogaan and Faiyaz Ahmed, head of Momentum. The official sponsors of the festival were Honda, Bangladesh DHS Motors Ltd., Aayat Group of Companies, Pepsi Bangladesh, Bank Asia Ltd, M.M. Ispahani Limited and partners of the event included Ogaan - Signature Collection, media partners RTV, Daily Ittefaq, Gitanjali Jewels, The Westin Dhaka, Wedding Diary Bangladesh, Radio Foorti, ICE Today, Ikebana, Toshiba Bangladesh Fan Club (STBL), Paper Studio and Momentum.

The festival came to a close with a fashion show and gala night on the third and final day. The fashion show showcased exquisite jewellery by Gitanjali teamed with pieces from the bridal collection of designers Ritu Kumar, Mohit Kapoor, Sabyasachi, Pretti S. Kapoor and fashion house Ogaan.

By M H Haider and Karishma Ameen
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Novel designs

As renowned photographer Anowar Hossain, the Chief Guest of the event put it, the designs on display at the gallery of Alliance Francaise were suited more to western tastes and used with success for garments, carpets and pottery meant for western buyers. Kuhu Plamondon, the other member of the jury, also had praises for the designs on the wall.

The students participating in the show at the Alliance Française are A B Waliuddin Chowdhury, Alexis Khan, Mala Mahbuba, Nazma Manobi, Subrata Das, Asaduzzaman, Fatematuz-Zohora, Shahid and Imam Hassan.

Asha Siddique, in her work, has variations in geometric shapes in blue, green and yellow. There is a combination of purple, orange and green used to create butterflies, bluebell birds and red and pink flowers.

Najma Manobi has a branch of a tree with circles in various colours, instead of flower and leaves. Ayesha Khalaque's representation had the colour wheel in the centre, with a beauteous female at the back.

Each of the pieces showcased at the gallery represents a unique concept that each of the artists have come up with. The exhibition runs till Saturday, 17 November, 2012.

By Fayza Haq



By Neeman Sobhan

CENTRAL ASIAN FOOD 3: Of Choikhanas, Somsas and Shashlyks

Dennis, our tourist guide is allowing us a tea break in our sightseeing schedule. He takes us to a traditional Choikhana or Tea-house. On the way, he says, “These are a cultural institution in Uzbekistan, an important social centre in a Mahallah (small community), places for people to sip tea and relax with friends.”

“Chaa and Adda for us Bengalis,” I nod, and Dennis is happy that I can relate to what he says. He continues, “A Choikhana can be just a few simple tables under a tree in the shade or a more elaborate place located in pretty surroundings, with vines spreading over a wooden frame and a hauz or pool of water near it.”

“What kind of Choikhana are we going to?”

“A simple but authentic place, where I often go to enjoy a pot of hot green tea in the shade in summer, or reclining on a tapchan in the sun to sip black tea in winter.”

“What is a tapchan?” I ask. He answers, “It is a large bed with a low table set upon it to have tea or to dine from. We remove our shoes and sit with folded legs. In some restaurants you can eat like this.”

He explains that while meals can be accompanied by cups or 'piala' of tea, normally, in the Choikhanas tea is served alone or with some nuts, dry fruits and sugar candies, unless the place is also known for its Somsas as is the place where he is taking us, because we are hungry for a light lunch.

We enter the tree-shaded courtyard of a nameless Choikhana, ringed with tables and chairs and a raised aquamarine blue water tank in a corner. The tapchans are all occupied. Our tea arrives in the traditional dark blue, white and gilt edged porcelain teapot and tiny bowls. I had read about the tea pouring ritual and note how Mahmood, our driver, serves us the tea in the traditional manner. The server is supposed to pour the tea into a cup and immediately pour it back into the teapot. This is done thrice. Mahmood does exactly so.

I also noticed that Mahmood was not only particular about holding the piala from the bottom but was pouring only a little amount of tea in our cups. I asked why and Dennis said. “The more frequently you pour tea to your guest, the more you show him respect. In an Uzbek home, if the host fills your cup, it probably means that it is time for you to leave.”

We order Somsas or sambusas, and soon I walk to the clay oven at one end of the teahouse and watch the careful process of placing the grapefruit-sized meat stuffed puff pastry balls to the inner sides of the glowing tandir. When golden and done I am given a long handled iron rod with a spatulate end to poke the baked somsas and push them to fall like ripe fruit into the long handled metal receptacle I hold in my other hand to collect them. I love the pastry but not the lamb filling.

In beautiful Bokhara the first evening, we walked from our hotel through intricate alleys opening suddenly into one of the city's central gathering places, a wide spectacular space called the Lab-e-Hauz (or lips of the pond) due to a lovely central water body with swans adrift on its surface and weeping willows trailing their hair in it like drama queens making the hauz the focus, and around its labial edges, many restaurants and choikhanas.

Some of the teashops were western type cafes; some of the old choikhanas sported the traditional trestle beds. We had dinner at one of these places. The shaslyks we ordered were unfortunately marinated with no spices and so left no impression on my taste buds. I think we in the sub-continent have perfected the kababs and other skewered, grilled meats. Still, I would not exchange the bland Bokhara kababs for something tastier in another location. In the enchanting Omar Khayam-esque backdrop of the place, with the sunset tinting the surrounding ruins of the majolica tiled Madrassah and the arches of the medieval market places with stalls of miniature paintings, ceramics, jewellery, silks, tea and spices, all lit up with fairy lights and reflecting in the Hauz-pool, anyone would be content with a metaphorical 'jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou'. For me, a tiny cup of hot fragrant choi and a vegetarian somsa would be the perfect end rhyme to the couplet of day and night melting into this moment's poetry.

Neeman Sobhan is a writer and journalist, living in Italy and teaching at the University of Rome. She also writes the fortnightly 'A Roman Column' that appears in the Star Weekend Magazine of Fridays.


Pond's Lustrous Runway: Wedding Edition

Winter is staging its entry, and so is the wedding season. With the contemporary wedding scene teeming with glitz and glamour, it is only fair that somebody steps up to make it easier on the brides to choose the best for that special day. Pond's Lustrous Runway- Wedding Edition kicked off with exactly that promise on the evening of November 9 at Hotel Lakeshore.

The event aspired to motivate and introduce talented upcoming fashion designers who desire to create elegant women's wear. After the tremendous response to the previous show, Infinity Event Management announced the 2nd series. Keeping the upcoming wedding season in mind, Infinity Event Management and Pond's joined hands to present wedding collections. The runway showcased the latest trends in wedding fashion with a unique creative touch from the talented designers. The long kameez, sari and kurti bedazzled with stone-work and embroidery dominated the runway. There was a wide selection of fabric in the collections, ranging from chiffon net to muslin. There was also a collection showcasing long Kurti-type gowns that stood out from the rest.

Pond's as a brand believes in rejuvenating the beauty that brings romance in a woman's life, and a wedding is the most ceremonious start for this beautiful journey. Along with that, Infinity Event Management took pride in creating a platform for the budding designers for showcasing their quality work thrice a year. The designers were evaluated and selected out of many worthy others on the basis of the quality of their work.

The collections were created and showcased by Chaman Chowdhury, Sanah Sharif, Sabah Shafeen, Shahrina Haque, Musharrat Bidita, Naureen Fariza and retailer Khan Brothers. Dazzling diamond jewellery by Diamond World graced the runway at the end of the show, carried by models wearing black satin gowns. The live Sufi music at the background added to the event's class. The show was sponsored by Akhtar Furnishers, Oriental Group, Diamond World, SAS Realty, Kiva Han and Wowtel. The event partners were Wedding Diary, Prive Spa & Salon and Channel 24.

By Afrida Mahbub
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Diploma Mishtir Lorai

The fierce dessert cooking challenge, Diploma Mishtir Lorai continues to air on ATN. The 8th episode of the program, which has gained popularity with audiences all around, has been as suspense-filled as ever. In the last episode the contestants took part in yet another pressure test, the New York Cheese Cake and fruit custard challenge. The aim was to focus on the ability to utilise the two main ingredients -- cheese and fruits, effectively. Apart from the taste of the desserts, the contestants tried to top one another with immaculate presentation skills. After a close contest and judging round, Farzana Islam of Khulna was eliminated from the race.

Previously departed Kakon was remembered by all for her exceptional skills in the kitchen. The remaining list of contestants include Helena Aktar Rakhi, Masuma Ali Rekha, Musharoth Jahan Rumi, Farzana A Khoda Naz and Farzana Habib. The red apron from the 8th round went to Masuma Ali Rekha making her safe in the next round. Tune into the next episode this Friday at 8pm on ATN.


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