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Bengali wedding is one of those wedding ceremonies in India which is held with long rituals and lasts over a few days. It is an occasion for gathering the entire family, where relatives from far off arrive especially to be part of the occasion. During Bengali wedding, a number of rituals and celebrations are conducted. This is a norm in West Bengal as well as prevalent in all Bengali people, living in other parts of the country. Besides the close association of families with the wedding, there is lot of fun, colourful dresses, dancing and most importantly, a variety of food items. One cannot miss out the unique repetition of the blowing of the conch shell and the special recitation with the tongue movements. Most of these rituals during the wedding are quite meaningful and carried out in the context of the gods and their blessings.
Bengali Wedding Pre-Marriage Rituals
Quite exotic and lengthy rituals mark the Bengali wedding. It is marked by the presence of many family members and is carried out in a disciplined manner.
This is the occasion where members, especially the elders, from the groom’s family visit the bride’s family and the same is done by the bride’s family. During these visits, the family members are treated to grand meals and also exchange of gifts. These visits are also marked by the sprinkling of husked rice and gold ornaments are also given. The basic concept of such visits is to confirm the acceptance of the bride and groom for the upcoming marriage.
Puja is offered to the ancestors during Vridhi puja done in the houses of both the bride and the groom. It is done a day prior to the wedding day. Rangoli is drawn on which is placed a Ghot with Amra Pallab. A Baran Dala is formed and ingredients required for the rituals are placed on it and worshipped. Bhagavan Narayan’s idol is worshipped in this ritual by lighting lamps and incense.
Aai Budo Bhaat
Special to the Bengali wedding, this occasion marks the invitation to friends and relatives of the bride. This is done to increase the interaction between the bride’s family members, so as to bring about a blessed culmination of the marriage.
Piris are items which are brought to the house of the bride prior to the day of wedding. It is meant as a sitting place for the bride and groom during the marriage. Piris is decorated with paintings and conch shell is blown. Gifts are exchanged between the two families.
Turmeric paste is applied onto the body of the bride, which in traditional days, was made by grinding solid turmeric in mortar and pestle. Nowadays, it is also available in the market. This is done to provide a glow to the bride’s complexion, especially on the marriage day.
On the day of marriage, this is an important ritual, where the female members of the bride and groom’s family, accompany them to the nearby pond separately. Goddess Ganga is invited to the marriage in this manner and a pitcher of water is carried back, which is used to bath the bride and groom in their respective houses. Then they are offered food, specially cooked for this purpose, consisting of fish and rice.
Traditional sankha and coral beads are encased in bangles and worn in the hands of the bride by seven married women, while the purohit chants Vedic mantra. Shell represents the moon and shows the peaceful and tranquil nature of the bride. Coral is said to provide good health to the female.
Gae Halud Tattva
Gae Halud Tattva means gifts, which are provided by the groom’s family, sent to the home of the bride, through a relative. It includes six sets of sarees, cosmetics, besides sweets, curd, paan, dhaan and durba. Incense sticks are burnt and conch shells are blown to welcome this guest.
This is the reciprocation of the gifts, which is said to be given from the side of the bride. Gifts are arranged in brass plate, which is borne by servants and it consists of many edible items.
To worship Saint Kuber, pujas are conducted separately in the homes of the bride and groom. This is done on the day of the wedding, where three glasses of metal are filled to the tip with Khol, dhaan and crushed rice and presented to the Kuber.
There is ritual bathing by both the bride and groom in the evening after applying turmeric paste on the day of the marriage. Oil and turmeric paste are applied on their body and face by some married women of the respective families. Then they both wear the new set of clothes which have come from their future in-law’s houses.
After all the pre-wedding rituals are over, the bride is dressed in the complete makeup meant for her marriage ceremony. Mukut is placed on her head as part of this bridal makeover. She then sits with Kajal laata and gaach kouto for her wedding rituals.
Decoration of the mandap for the wedding ceremony is also included in the pre-wedding ceremony in Bengali wedding. Banana trees are planted at the mandap area and rice paste is used to make a large alpana. Mandap is also decorated with flowers and lights.
Wedding rituals are usually held in the early morning in Bengali wedding.
Groom, along with his relatives and friends, arrives in the designated venue of marriage and this procession is quite lavish with lots of dance, singing and band.
When the Bor Jatri arrives at the venue, the mother of the bride receives the groom with the traditional aarti and sprinkling of husked rice. The rest of the people are served with drinks and sweets.
The Groom is then made to sit at the wedding mandap under the prepared canopy. He is only having the bride and priest under the canopy. Here, the groom is presented with a new set of clothes from the person who would be doing the sampradaan.
The Bride is taken up from the low wooden stool by her brothers and made to circle seven times around the groom. Such a thing is supposed to bind the bride and groom.
Exchange of floral garlands is done between the bride and groom. This is to signify that they accept each other.
The bride and groom look at each other in front of all the people present, as a mark of their acceptance of each other for marriage.
In this ritual of the Bengali wedding, the bride’s hand is put over that of the groom by an elderly member of the family. Both their hands are tied with a sacred thread while the Vedic chants are being recited. Their hands are placed over the brass pot, which has a coconut and mango leaves.
Yagna, Anjali and Sindoor Daan are done in front of the sacred fire, where the sindoor is placed on the forehead of the bride by the groom. This is the end step of the wedding rituals in Bengali wedding.
Post wedding rituals in Bengali wedding comprise of seeing off the daughter by her family, so she goes to the groom’s family and starts a new life. In the groom’s home, they are kept in separate rooms for the night and then a few post wedding rituals are performed in the next day, such as Bou Bhaat and Bodhu Boron.