Weddings with the Bengalis are one of the most lavish and artistic among all. Bengali weddings are entirely different. Some things are done entirely different. The merry making, fun and laughter ensure whole lot of the fun. A large number of things can be said not to be missed during the Bengali wedding to ensure you relish the authentic experience. The conch shell blowing and ululation by the women gathered at the wedding venue are most characteristic of a Bengali marriage. Shehnai recital played by live musicians or played over a music system adds to this symphony.
Like any other Indian Hindu Wedding, a traditional Bengali wedding is also complete only when a set of rituals and traditions are followed in the truest sense. It is a very colourful, joyful and extravagant affair which involves all the family members of the concerned couples in terms of merrymaking and the arrangement of the wedding. When the ghotoks have made sure that both the families approve of the match, sweets and delicious foods are shared between the close members of both the families and the ghotok receives dakshina.
Here are the rituals for the auspicious Bengali wedding:
Ashirbaad can be viewed as a Bengali engagement ceremony involving the couple receiving blessings from the elders of both families, and is a significant step in having their relationship approved, so to speak. The couple also receive gifts that include clothes and jewelry. A A feast follows and the gathered relatives and friends along with the would-be bride and groom feast on delicious food, drinks and, also true to old traditions, sweets.
Ai Buddho Bhaat
It is a very special ritual followed by the members of the bride’s family. The bride is treated with all her favorite food and drinks in what is supposed to be her last meal as a maiden in her paternal house. Though the significance of this ritual is not as strong today, it still holds a special place in everyone’s heart because it facilitates more celebrations and grand feasts, and moments of joy and happiness!
In this ceremony the bride is made to sit on the ground surrounded by four banana plants and she wears a bright yellow saree for the occasion. A paste of turmeric and sandalwood/mustard oil that is sent from the groom’s family is applied all over the body of the bride by her elders, relatives and friends as a ritual of beautification and purification of the body before the auspicious ceremonies of marriage.
Bengali Wedding Piris
The day before the wedding, auspicious piris are brought to the bride’s house, which are then used for the seating of the bride and the groom at the wedding. The piris are painted with beautiful patterns and decorated with shells. On the same day, gifts are exchanged between the two families to mark the occasion.
Very early the next morning, the bride and the groom are separately (by their respective families) taken to a nearby pond to invite the Goddess Ganga to their marriage. They also take back a pitcher of water. Finally, delicacies are served with curd and rice flakes Sweets, too are part of the occasion.
As this ritual would have it, the purohit chants Vedic mantras while seven married women adorn the hands of the would-be bride with conch shell and lac bangles. The shankha or conch shell bangle symbolize the quality of the moon which should be adopted by the bride. The red color of the lac or coral bangles is considered a sign of fertility and good health.
Abhidas tatva are a series of gifts the bride’s family gives the groom’s family. The relatives of the bride’s family decorate the gifts on the copper plates which includes sarees, fish, sweets, paan, dhaan and durbo. The relatives are welcomed in the house of the groom warmly and served sweets.
Gaye Holud Tatva
In gaye hould tatva, the bride is presented with at least 6 sarees, her favorite cosmetics, and other eatables and sweets from the groom’s family. The occasion is marked with the blowing of the conch shell and the lighting of incense sticks. A feast follows and the bride is blessed for her future prospects, a happy married life and fine kids.
It is a ceremony which is followed to worship Kuber, the god of gold, and it takes place at the houses of both the bride and groom. The ritual is carried out on the day of the marriage when the family members keep three metal glasses filled to the brim with dhaan, khoi and crushed rice at the altar.
It is one ritual that is a must which is followed by the bride and the groom separately. In this ritual, the bride as well as the groom are applied with turmeric and mustard oil paste and then given a proper bath, after which the groom wears new clothes for the marriage that comes from each other’s families. The old clothes that were worn by them are given away to the barber.
The bride is seated on the piri and the members of the bride’s family pick her up and give seven rounds around the groom which is called as the ritual of shaant paak. All through this time, the bride keeps her face hidden from the groom by keeping it covered with the betel leaves.
After the shaant paak comes the time for the bride to remove those betel leaves hiding her face and eyes and they exchange glances for the first time, which is called as the ritual of shubho drishti.
Exchanging of garlands are the part of the Bengali wedding. The bride and the groom exchange garlands thrice under chandnatola. This happens in front of parents and relatives, who witness.
It is a sacred and most important ritual as the bride’s father finally gives her hand to her groom under the chandnatola with the blessings of the gods and the chants of the purohit reciting Vedic mantras at the background.
At last, the groom sindhoor on the forehead of the bride with a ring or a coin, without looking at her, and the bride covers her head with a saree during this time, called a ghoomta. This is the final wedding ritual in a Bengali marriage which is then followed by the post wedding rituals.
It is after the sindoor daan that the couple are sated with their friends and fed with food and drink, thus breaking their whole day long fast.
The day after the bengali wedding, the groom again puts sindhoor on the forehead of the bride and the occasion is marked with further celebrations.
It is the one night when he bride and the groom are kept in separate quarters and not allowed to spend the night in the same room.
The bride and the groom are finally allowed to spend the night together, and it marks their journey of a happy conjugal life. The room and the bed are decorated with flowers and the bed is prepared with silk bedding for the bride and the groom. It is the last of the wedding traditions of a Bengali wedding.
Written by Soumee Pal
Image Sources: Internet