Those of you who have had the good luck of witnessing a Bengali wedding from the start to the end would certainly concur that it is a visual delight. Bengali Hindu weddings like most other Indian wedding events are a mix of tradition and rituals with a touch of modernity.
These weddings have plenty of colour and vivacity. Likewise, a marriage causes reunion of a member of the family and old friends. Brand-new relations are made and old ones get further enhanced. In such a way, marriage represents the beginning of a new journey not just for the couple but for the whole clan.
Bengali weddings typically are not extravagant (although fancy or ostentatious are probably more apt words!) however require elaborate preparations to carry out the many routines with accuracy. Often it could also be physically requiring.
Let me stroll you through a few of the common routines and traditional ceremonies we see in Bengali wedding events.
Bengali wedding event rituals start a few months prior to the actual wedding. A few of them may have become obsolete with the passage of time while others are still thoroughly followed.
The wedding routines and traditions followed by households coming from the various districts of West Bengal (Ghoti) and Bangladesh i.e. erstwhile East Bengal (Bangal) frequently differ to some degree.
Now to take a look at the different aspects of the Bengali Wedding that occur before the main event takes place.
There was a time when the families would converge at a place with priests to repair the advantageous marital relationship date from an almanac after the bride-to-be and the groom have given their approval for the marital relationship and their horoscopes have been matched. The families would then formalize the wedding and exchange gifts.
But it is an out-of-date practise today as match-making and even horoscope compatibility is examined online. The wedding dates are chosen and interacted on the telephone.
This is an event where the bride and the groom are formally accepted by their respective in-laws and senior citizens from the two households assemble to shower their blessings on the bride and the groom. They put husked rice and trefoil leaves on the head of the bride-to-be and the groom and present gold accessories or other gifts as a token of their love. Often it happens a couple of months prior to the actual wedding event and in some cases on the day of the wedding event itself.
Ai Budo Bhaat
This is quite comparable to the idea of bridal shower or bachelor party associated with Christian weddings. Normally friends, next-door neighbours and close loved ones assemble at your house of the bride or the groom on the day before the solemn marriage ceremony is to happen.
The bride-to-be and the groom in their respective homes are offered a platter of conventional Bengali delicacies as it is thought about as the last meal as a spinster and a bachelor respectively. The put together guests often sing and dance and make merry. Today, a lot of Bengali wedding events have borrowed the concepts of Sangeet and Mehendi from North Indian weddings and merge them with Ai Budo Bhaat.
This is held at the dawn of the wedding day. The family members and close family members of the bride/groom move in a procession to a close-by waterbody( preferably River Ganges) where they fill a pitcher with water and return. This water would later be used throughout the snan routine.
The would-be couple is then fed curd, rice flakes, banana and sweets at their respective homes and they are expected to quick after this meal till their wedding event is solemnized. Generally, the mother or an elderly married relative feeds the bride-to-be or the groom. Individuals from some districts of the erstwhile East Bengal call this ceremony adhibas instead of dodhi mangal.
This is a ritual which is performed on the morning of the wedding event right before the ‘gaye holud’ ceremony of the bride or the groom. It is carried out in the homes of both celebrations. A priest chants Vedic incantations and the extended family pays homage to their predecessors. A small puja is performed for the well being of the ancestors in the afterlife and also to request for their blessings.
Tattva, Gae Holud and Snan
Tattva & Gae HoludOn the early morning of the wedding, both the families dispatch gifts called tattva to the other. Members from the groom’s household bring a brand-new saree to be used by the bride-to-be throughout ‘gae holud’. They also bring oil, a huge, embellished carp or rohu fish, personal grooming and toiletry products, sweetmeats and other edibles. A great deal of attention is paid to the number and decor of the ‘tattva’.
The turmeric paste which is used on the body of the groom, in an event called gae holud, is brought along with the tattva to the home of the bride and the same paste is then applied to her body. Then the water brought from the water body at the day break is used to bathe the bride. This is called snan.
Sankha and Pola
In some Bengali wedding events, the bride is made to use conch shell bracelets which are red and white in colour on the day of ai budo bhaat while in others, the bride-to-be needs to wear it on the early morning of the wedding event after or during the gae holud. The white ones are called sankha while the red ones are called pola. These bangles are similar in essence to ‘mangalsutra’ that North Indian wed ladies wear.
Wedding event Routines
Bor Jatri and Bor Baran
Bengali Hindu weddings have a specific time frame which is thought about most advantageous and the wedding takes place within that duration. It is called the lagna. The wedding procession led by the groom leaves for the wedding venue generally in a high-end caravan which is dispatched by the household of the bride. This group is called the ‘bor jatri’. A car sent out individually for the groom leads the caravan.
At the entryway of the place, the mother of the bride-to-be and other elders of the family wait to receive the group. The mother, in some wedding events, first washes the wheels of the cars and truck in which the groom gets here. Then she blesses the groom with tilak from the baran dala and does an aarti prior to inviting him. The other guests are likewise gotten with a great deal of warmth. They are then seated and served drinks.
The groom shows up in conventional Bengali attire of pleated dhoti and kurta. However after he is seated at the chchadnatala which is generally the sanctum sanctorum of the mandap where the rites would be carried out, an elderly member, typically the maternal uncle of the bride, who would later do the ‘kanya sampradan’, presents the groom new clothing which he has to use during the wedding event rituals. These clothes are referred to as ‘potto bostro’. In Sylheti weddings, the canopy camping tent (Mandap) is offered a special look. It is called kunja and looks beautiful.
Saat Paak (on pidi) and Subho Drishti
Subho DrishtiThe bride-to-be gets in the ‘mandap’ where the groom is currently seated along with the priests. But the uniqueness of this ceremony depends on the truth that the bride-to-be seats on a wooden stool called a pidi. Her siblings and close male family members then lift the bride seated on the pidi and carry her around the groom, who is seated in front of the wedding event pyre, seven times in a row.
All along, the bride covers her eyes with a pair of betel leaves. Only after the saat paak is complete will the bride take the betel ends her eyes. Shortly afterwards, in the existence of the elders of the two families, the bride-to-be sets her eyes on those of the groom and their eyes fulfill amidst the blowing of conch shells and ululation. This is known as subho drishti.
The subho dristi is followed by the ‘mala badal’. The bride-to-be still seated on the pidi and kept hoisted by the brothers, exchanges garlands made from fragrant flowers with the groom three times which symbolizes the couple’s acceptance of each other.
To add to the fun element, the brothers frequently attempt to hoist the bride as high as possible to make it difficult for the groom to reach the bride’s neck. When the going gets tough, go into the friends of the groom in the frame! They then try to raise the groom higher than the bride and competition in between the two sides continue for a while and the assembled guests wind up in peals of laughter.
A senior member of the bride’s extended family hands over the bride to the groom.
Their hands are connected by a spiritual thread and the hands will remain in bounds till the end of routines. This event is called sampradan or more particularly kanya sampradan.
Yagya and Saat Paak (on foot)
The Vedic rituals invoking the existence of Agnidev or Fire God to solemnize the marital relationship, is carried out by the priests. The would-be couple sits together with them and follow the instructions thoroughly.
After at some point, they are asked to go around the pyre seven times. The ‘uttariya’ used by the groom and the end of the saree used by the bride are incorporated a knot called ‘gathbandhan’. The seven actions taken around the wedding pyre solemnizes the wedding. This is referred to as Saat Paak.
In some weddings, the sibling of the bride-to-be gives puffed rice or khoi in her hands and the couple then provide it to the holy fire.
However, in the majority of wedding events, the bride-to-be stands in front of the fire with a chaff in hand. The groom stands just behind her, their bodies touching and he then holds the hands of the bride-to-be. The khoi is put on the chaff and by using the concept of winnowing, the khoi is tossed into the fire. This is called Kusumdinge.
In Sylheti Bengali weddings, the bride has to grind the khoi with a pestle, each time her brother hands over some amount of khoi prior to providing it to the fire.
Sindoor Daan and Ghomta
Sindoor DaanThe groom puts a vermilion mark on the forehead of the bride and also utilizes a new saree as a veil to cover her head.
This marks the end of the wedding event routines and the couple is stated man and wife.
Post-wedding event routines
On the night of the wedding event, after the guests have actually left, the couple and some young members of the extended family occupy a space and have a good time. They chat non-stop, dance and sing. It is essentially a time of joviality and delight. They likewise play different video games. It is a process through which the couple along with the others chill out in the existence of one another.
On the morning after the wedding, another routine called bashi biye is performed. The occasion is restricted just to the close loved ones from both sides. A priest performs some pujas and invocations and it ends with a lunch.
Bidaay and Bodhu Baran
Bidaay is a touching event where the bride-to-be leaves her family house with a heaviness of heart to move in with her in-laws. While departing, the bride-to-be keeps throwing fistfuls of rice backwards without looking back. This is how she attempts to repay the financial obligation of her household for bringing her up.
The newly-wed couple arrives in a car at your house of the groom where the mom stands at the doorway to get them. The mom washes the cars and truck tires and ushers the bride-to-be in. This is called bodhu baran. An imprint of her foot is taken on a white fabric utilizing lac dye, red in color.
Some fun video games are played by the bride and the groom, viewed by observers made up of close friends, family and next-door neighbors. They egg on the ‘competitors’ to win at all expenses and plainly everything is done in jest. Also, the bride is shown around your home and is expected to acquaint herself with the assembled visitors.
This is the opening night that the bride-to-be spends at the home of her in-laws. The bride-to-be and the groom sleep in different spaces on that night out of a belief obtained from a fable or folklore that if the couple sleeps together on the first night, their conjugal life would not be unified.
Bou Bhaat and Reception
The following day, the bride-to-be has to cook some dishes and serve the food to the other half and other seniors in the family. This is called the bou-bhaat. The other half likewise hands over a saree and a plate of food to his spouse and pledges to shoulder her obligation for the rest of his mortal life. This ceremony is called bhaat kapor.
At night of that day or the next day, the household of the groom hosts a grand reception in honor of the new spouse. Visitors from the side of the groom come and join the gala dinner reception in an attempt to understand the new member of the household.
On the second night of her remain in her other half’s house, the bride-to-be sleeps with the groom in a bed decked with flowers and wears floral accessories. It is the night when the couple consummates their marriage.
SubhoChandi Satyanarayan Pujo
This is a puja offered to Lord Satyanarayan for the well being of the newly-wed couple and their households. A priest performs the Puja and then blesses the couple. This may either occur on the eighth day after marriage or even earlier.
On the 8th day after the marriage, the couple returns back to the house of the bride. It is a day of jollity for the household and often, individuals are invited likewise to partake of that joy and the household makes plans for a lunch.
This marks the end of the wedding event rituals under Bengali Hindu culture. Bengali marriages are lovely yet laborious and time-consuming. You might want to save as much time as possible for your family and guests rather than devoting your entire attention to the wedding plans.