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Bengali Wedding Rituals

A Traditional Bengali Marriage Ceremony

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Bengali Wedding Rituals

A Bengali Wedding

The tying of the nuptial knot in traditional Bengali style entails a series of elaborate and colorful rituals, which are not only enjoyable but are of great significance in conjugal life.

The blowing of the conch shell and ululation by the women gathered at the wedding venue are most characteristic of a Bengali marriage. Shehnai recital played by live musicians or else played over a music system adds to this symphony. The purpose is to draw the attention of all and sundry to the wedding and also to summon the invitees. It is also a kind of social declaration from the family to the rest of the society.

PRE-WEDDING RITUALS

Ashirbaad - On an auspicious day the elders of the groom's side go to bless the bride and vice versa, by sprinkling husked rice and trefoil on their heads and giving them gold ornaments. It is a kind of acceptance of the boy and the girl on both sides.

Aai Budo Bhaat - A bachelorette party for the bride before the D-day thrown by relatives or friends. It signifies their approval as well, and also encourages community feeling.

Holud Kota - A ceremony in which five or seven married women of the household grind turmeric with mortar and pestle and anoint the bride with turmeric paste. This brightens up the bride's complexion and makes her skin glow.

Dodhi Mongol - At dawn on the day of marriage seven married ladies adorn the bride's hands with the traditional bangles Shakha and Paula - one pair of red and one pair of white bangles, and feed her a meal of curd and rice, the only meal for the day.

MAIN WEDDING RITUALS

Bor Jatri - The members of the groom's house as well as his friends dress in their best attire and journey to the bride's house where the wedding takes place.

Bor Boron - When the bor jatri reaches the bride's place, usually the mother of the bride along with other members come out to welcome the groom and his family by showing the holy earthen lamp, sprinkling trefoil, and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow (kula). Then they are served sweets and drinks.

Potto Bastra - After the groom is seated at the chadnatolla (wedding altar and canopy) - the sanctum sanctorum where only the groom, bride and the priest takes their place, the groom is offered new clothes by the person who is to do the sampradaan - a kind of gift to the boy from the girl's side.

Saat Paak - The bride, usually seated on a low wooden stool called pidi is lifted by her brothers and is taken round the groom in seven complete circles. The significance is they are winded up securely to each other.

Mala Badal - After the circles are completed, still sitting high on the piri, the bride and the groom exchange garlands of fragrant flowers thrice. This is the first step in which they accept each other.

Subho Dristi - After garlanding one another the bride and the groom are made to look at each other in front of all the assembled invitees. This exchange of loving glance is to initiate them to be together officially by the society.

Sampradan - The bride then takes her place at the chadnatolla where an elderly male member of the bride's family hands her over to the groom and the couple's hands are bound by the sacred thread amidst recital of Vedic chants and are placed on the mangal ghot - a brass pitcher filled with water that is covered with mango leaves attached to one twig and a green coconut placed on it.

Yagna - The bride and groom sit in front of the sacred fire and chant mantras after the priest. Agni, the fire god is made the divine witness to the marriage.

Saat Paak - Seven circular rounds are taken by the couple around the fire thereby solemnizing the occasion.

Anjali - An offering to the fire is made. The bride's brother puts puffed rice (khoi) in the hands of the bride, and the groom standing close to her holds her hands from the back and extends their arms forward. They then pour the offering into the fire together.

Sindoor Daan and Ghomta - Once again seated at their respective places in chadnatolla the groom applies sindoor or vermilion (a symbol of marriage worn by Hindu women thereafter) on the bride's hair-parting. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta or veil.

POST-WEDDING RITUALS

Bidaay - This is a farewell - mixed moment of joy and sorrow as the bride is bid adieu with blessings of her parents and relatives to start a new life with her beau.

Kaal Ratri - After the couple reaches the groom's house and the initial welcome ceremony is over they are separated for the night, probably to get a refreshing sleep and prepare for the next day's final wedding ceremony.

Bou Bhaat & Bodhu Boron - The girl cooks and serves all the members of her husband's family. A banquet is held to treat the guests who lavish gifts on the new bride.

Phool Shojja - The couple is adorned with flowers and are left together alone in their room to enjoy conjugal bliss on a bed laid with flowers.

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