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Bengali weddings are rich and colourful with an array of rituals. They are very interesting to see as they are very lively and animated. The best part of a Bengali wedding is the food. It is rich and lavish and the sweets form an integral part of the menu.
Pre Wedding Rituals
Adan Pradan: This is the first ritual which is performed to ensure that the bride and groom do not belong to the same lineage.
Aashirwad (Patri Patra): This ritual confirms the marriage alliance between both families and is performed a few days before the wedding. This ritual is conducted at their respective homes in the presence of a pundit and Lord Narayana is worshipped during the puja. Post the puja the bride’s family visits the groom’s home to bless him. This takes place in presence of the priest and is then reciprocated by the groom’s family.
Vridhi Puja: This puja is condected a day prior to the wedding in memory of all the ancestors of the bride and the groom. The puja is conducted by the parental uncle of the bride or the groom. According to the tradition, the uncle must be on a liquid diet during the puja.
Dodhi Mangal: This ceremony is conducted early in the morning on the wedding day by ten married women who fetch water from a nearby pond to bathe the bride and the groom. Post the bath, the bride and groom are served a lavish meal which comprises of fish fry, rice, curd and churiya.
Wedding Piris: These are special wooden seats for the bride and the groom to sit during the wedding ceremony. They are specially crafted and decorated by relatives and close friends. These are handed over a day prior when exchange of gifts takes place between families. Conch shells are blown while they are handed over.
Gae Halud Tattva: This ceremony takes place before the haldi ceremony. The groom’s parents send gifts known as Gae Halud Tattva to the bride’s home. The gifts comprise of six sarees, cosmetics, fish, curd, paan, an array of sweets, dhaan (grains) and durba (grass strands). One of the groom’s relative carries all the gifts and is usually accompanied by an entourage of servants to help him/her. The bride’s family welcomes them by blowing conch shells.
Adhibas Tattva: The bride’s family also sends gifts to the groom’s home. The gifts include saree for the groom’s mother, curd, fish, sweets, dhaan (grains) and durba (grass strands) which are placed on a brass plate and carried by servants to the groom’s home.
Snan: This ceremony is carried in the late afternoon on the wedding day and involves bathing the bride and the groom. Married women apply turmeric paste and oil to the bride and groom. Once this is done, the bride and the groom take a bath and change into the clothes gifted to them by their in-laws. Their old clothes are given away to a barber.
Sankha Porana: Once the bride has bathed and gotten ready for the wedding she wears conch shell bangles. This ceremony is known as Sankha Porana.
Dressing up the Bride: The bride’s friends help her to dress. Bengali brides look nothing less than a princess on their wedding day. The bride’s face is adorned with lovely patterns and motifs make out of sandalwood paste.
Mandap: The Bengali wedding mandap is very simple. It includes tying two banana tree branches are used to make an open canopy and it is decorated with fresh flowers and lights.
Welcoming the groom: The groom is welcomed by the bride’s family at the doorstep by a fresh petal shower and the blowing of conch shell marks his arrival. An older lady from the bride’s family does aarti for the groom and then touches the plate to the groom’s forehead and then to the floor and back again to the groom’s forehead. The groom is then offered sweets and sherbet and rose water is sprinkled on him as he enters.
Shubho Drishti: The groom proceeds to the mandap where the wedding ceremony takes place. The bride is seated on the piri and carried to the mandap accompanied by four friends. The bride holds two beetle leaves in her palms and holds them in front of her eyes to cover them. She is then rotated seven times around the groom and later placed in front of him. The bride and groom look at each other for the first time during the wedding. This ritual is called Shubho Drishti.
Mala Badal: This ritual involves exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom.
Saat Paak and Sampradhan: The bride is seated on a low wooden stool called pidi which is lifted by her brothers. The maternal or paternal uncle of the bride then hand her over to her husband-to-be and this ceremony is known as sampradhan. The bride is circled around the groom seven times and this signifies that they are now married.
Post Wedding Rituals
Bidaai: This is an emotional ceremony where the bride departs for her new home. The bride throws handful of rice on her way out. This signifies that the bride has repaid all debts she owed to her mother and wishes her maternal home a prosperous life.
Basar Ghar: This is the welcoming ceremony of the bride at the groom’s home. The bride is supposed to dip her feet in a thali containing alta (red colouring agent) and milk before entering the house and then walk with imprints of her feet in the house. She is welcomed by her sister-in-law and then presented a set of red ivory bangles which signify that she is now married. She is also gifted a metal bangle known as loha which she is supposed to wear for the rest of her life.
Bashi Biye: A day after the wedding the groom applies vermilion to the brides forehead in the morning and they visit the mandap where they worship sun god in presence of a priest.
Bou Baran: This is the welcoming ceremony for the newlywed at the groom’s home. The couple is welcomed and showered with blessings by older members of the family.
Bharan Poushan and Bahubhaat: This ritual is performed by the groom at his home. The groom presents a plate containing sweets and a saree to the bride. This signifies that from that day on, the groom will take care of her and satisfy all her needs. The bride then makes some rice preparation and serves the family. This ritual signifies that she has now entered the groom’s family and is a part of it.
Kaal Ratri: This ritual takes place on the second night after the wedding where the bride and groom are not allowed to even look at each other.
Dira Gaman: This is a ritual where the newly wedded couple visits the bride’s home for the first time after the wedding. The occasion is marked by blowing of conch shells and the thread which is tied to the bride’s wrist during one of the wedding rituals is cut off.
Phool Shojja and Suhaag Raat: This involves the decorating the groom’s bedroom with flowers.