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Weeks of parties!

Written by Antje on December 31st 2017 17:01

In my last blog, I wrote about the rice harvest. Well over a week ago, I came across this scene. These men beat the sheafs of rice against boards to beat the rice grains out.  

The rice is cooked in water, then dried (and some kinds get cooked and dried a second time), after which the rice grains are separated from the chaff. Unfortunately, this process makes the time of the rice harvest a dangerous time for kids. We have already seen several children in the hospital with burns because they fell into this hot mass of cooking rice.

On December 16, Bangladesh celebrates ‘Victory Day’, the day in 1971 that brought an end to the 9 month independence war after their declaration of independence. It is a day of games for staff and their kids, with a cultural program in the afternoon.
This year, I bought a sari in the colours of Bangladesh (red and green).

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Below you see a video in which I participate in a race to carry water in my bare hands from one side to the other. It turns out that running in a sari is quite an feat! Our team of 3 won.

The cultural program:

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In my last blog, I show for Christmas stars were covered with red paper and plastic. Here is an example of these stars mounted on bamboo poles above the buildings of the hospital. 

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On the Thursday before Christmas, we had a Christmas celebration for the hospital. The entrance was decorated…

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…we had a meditation in the waiting room of the clinic (notice the decoration with the many balloons)…

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…and Jesus’ birthday cake was cut. It is always a wonderful opportunity to tell our staff and patients what we as Christians believe about Christmas. 

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Of course, we also had a beautifully decorated church for Christmas (yes, the lamps in front of the church flash red and green!)

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We dressed up for the occasion…

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…and celebrated further by sharing a meal of rice and goat curry. This year I helped serve. 

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On second Christmas Day, we had a wedding celebration! Joati, one of our ‘medical assistants’, got married. Medical assistants do a 3 year internal training with us, and function more or less like family doctors in our organisation. They are the first to see a patient and do some of the treatment themselves by certain protocols. All other patients are referred to the doctors. Without our medical assistants, we would not be able to run the hospital.
The day before the wedding, Joati had her ‘gaye holud’, which means as much as ‘yellow on the skin’. It is the Bengali version of the bachelorette party. 

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Everybody gets a chance to besmear the bride (or groom) with kurkuma mixed with oil. In addition, you give her a small, sweet treat and a blessing. The small girls next to Joati also enjoy the attention. In the weddings, the girls sitting next to the bride are usually a bit older (the bride’s sisters, for instance). The groom has several men sitting beside him, but the feast is for all the family and friends of either the bride or the groom. 

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A day later was the wedding. Joati was almost unrecognizable with all the make-up, but she seemed to get along well with the groom and there was much laughter during the service. That is not always the case. Bride and groom hardly know each other over here, most marriages are arranged. Even when they did chose one another, it is often not on the basis of a long friendship. 

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After the service, Joati and her husband had to negotiate with a group of young men to be able to leave the church. I was told that this serves to encourage the interaction between the groom and the young family members of the bride. 

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Afterwards, a rice meal was served for everyone, and the couple left during the afternoon for the village of the groom, where they would be received the next day with a feast and rice meal in honour of the bride. 

Yet another day later, there was a similar rice mail to receive the bride of another family. This young man got married in Rajshahi and then ‘brought’ his bride to her new house. We are rice and could give a present. In the past, this bride would have been taken in into the household of the parents of the groom, but in this modern time there is a better chance that they will work and live in their own place. 

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I hope I didn’t bore with with the all parties, but looking back through my pictures, this was the only thing I found to share… 

I wish you all a blessed 2018!