Divya Karnad was stepping out of the washroom in Aritra Das’ Dubai home where he lived with his parents and had the strangest thought. ‘I’m going to marry Aritra.’
“I remember thinking it very weird,” says Divya. “I knew I liked Aritra but didn’t know if he liked me. And I wasn’t very kicked about the idea of getting married at that time.”
Says Aritra: “I met Divya properly through our mutual best friend, and after that I couldn’t stop trying to meet and hang out with her.”
The couple from India who live in Dubai, had always known about each other, having been in the same university, where Divya was doing a degree in business administration and Aritra in biotechnology. “My best friend is also his best friend and classmate,” says Divya. But it was much later in Dubai that the stars seemed to align, and they really got talking, and couldn’t seem to stop thereafter.
“I knew she was the one,” says Aritra, recalling the day he made up his mind. “We were watching Harry Potter together with friends at Divya’s house.”
In 2020, Aritra and Divya were married in a court ceremony back in Divya’s Indian hometown of Pune. A good two years later, they gave in to their in-laws’ request for a Bengali wedding ceremony, celebrating in style at the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on The Palm, Dubai this April.
“We were both okay with just the legal wedding. This was more for our families, and yet we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was arranged very fast – and I’m okay with that – the only thing was I didn’t get time to lose weight for the wedding!” says Divya, breaking into peals of laughter.
In almost all aspects of their lives, be it their everyday routine one, their social lives, or their minimal online one, Divya and Aritra are the quintessential chilled out couple. For instance, rather than go out, they far prefer ordering in fast food and spending time together at home, with their dog and cat.
And so it was that for their wedding, both were happy to play along with their families, guided by wedding planner Sachin Singhal of Event Brokers.
Aritra’s mother took care of all the shopping for the family, flying to Kolkata, India, meeting with the designer, and picking out the couple’s wedding clothes.
The couple decided to go traditional, with the bride choosing to wear red, much to her mother-in-law’s delight. “Since it was to be a Bengali wedding, red was the perfect choice,” says Divya.
Once they had decided on the attire, they could move on to deciding the décor and how it would contrast and yet complement their clothes.
“I had never really thought about my wedding,” says Divya. “Only that it must be bohemian and on the beach.”
All the details were thus left to the wedding planner and Aritra’s mother. The beach plan had to be ditched given the Dubai weather in April. “Finding the venue was probably the most stressful thing. But once we got that, the rest was very smooth and easy, and had a really nice vibe,” Divya says.
The events included the pre-wedding rituals marked with a Sangeet ceremony – “where we had so much fun” – followed the next day by the haldi (turmeric) ceremony, where the bride and groom are smeared with turmeric. Turmeric is considered very auspicious, stands for purity and fertility and is believed to bring good luck and good health, to the couple. The wedding, reception and after-party followed.
Dressed in her red saree, Divya and Aritra, in a red and white kurta-pyjama, went through the short Bengali wedding. It included quaint customs such as the bride holding up a betel leaf to cover her face and the women producing an ullulating sound as she finally removes the leaves from her face.
Ever practical, Divya chose to wear her mother-in-law’s jewellery. “I am really not into heavy jewellery. Even the lehengas I wore, they were beautiful, but I’m never going to be wearing them ever again.”
Says their wedding planner Sachin Singhal: “This wedding was a pure Bengali delight for us. We loved working with fresh colours and the beautiful culture vibes. Being a foodie, the best part for me and my partner was to work on the exotic menu, displaying the multiculturalism of Bengali food on the groom’s side and the amazing Awadhi selection on the bride’s.”
The couple have settled back into their quiet lives. Says Divya, who is also a Tarot card reader: “We’re working towards getting a home, so we have a backyard where Aritra can barbecue – he’s really good at it – and the animals can run around.”