Are you thinking of getting married? With that decision taken, and considering how you’re reading this article, it’s safe to say that you haven’t eloped! Thank God you didn’t, otherwise this work would have been rendered pointless.
If you’re getting married to a Bengali, well let’s just say – there’s a lot more than maach-bhaat, roshogollas and mishti doi that you need to think and plan for! A Bengali Wedding often referred to as ‘Biye ’is a visual treat. A host of deep, meaningful (sometimes boring, to be honest) rituals seeped in culture and tradition are performed amidst colourful, elegant and intricate decorations.
Bengali weddings are beautiful because somehow, keeping the roots firmly on traditional elements is never overlooked. They are elaborate affairs with celebrations spanning for 2-3 days from morning till night. The rituals and their executions, the parties and their aftermath…. exhaustive, but the excitement of following typical customs is… well…. exciting!
Without further ado, let us look into the wedding rituals that you need to brace yourself for.
Ai Budo Bhaat
This is pretty similar to the concept of bridal shower or bachelor party associated with Christian weddings. Usually friends, neighbours and close relatives assemble at the house of the bride or the groom on the day before the solemn marriage ceremony is to take place.
The bride and the groom in their respective homes are offered a platter of traditional Bengali delicacies as it is considered as the last meal as a spinster and a bachelor respectively. The assembled guests often sing and dance and make merry.
The groom starts from his house after receiving his mother’s blessings, in a specially decorated car with flowers sent by the bride’s family, towards the wedding venue, accompanied by few of his friends and family. These people accompanying the groom are known as Bor Jatri.
Upon reaching the wedding venue, the Groom and the Bor Jatri are received with much enthusiasm amidst blowing of conch shells and ululations, fireworks too sometimes. The mother of the bride welcomes him with a large tray made of cane containing auspicious ingredients like rice, turmeric, betel nuts, bunch of banana and a lighted diya. She touches it to the groom’s forehead, then shoulders, then the chest and repeats this thrice. She then feeds him with sweets and water and ushers him in.
The elders from bride’s side take their turns in blessing the groom and presenting him with expensive gifts of jewellery, cash or even watches.
The same is done by the elders accompanying the groom with the bride where they bless her and present her with pieces of jewellery and other expensive gifts.
Saat Paak and Subho Drishti
The groom is brought into the wedding mandap known and an initial puja is performed along with the person who will do the “Kanya Sampradan”. The groom is then asked to change into his Jor. After he is back to the mandap, the bride is seated in a wooden platform known as ‘piri‘ and is carried by 4-5 young male members of her family to the mandap, all the while she hides her face from view with the help of a couple of betel leaves. The bride and groom are then placed in front of each other. The bride removes the betel leaves and the two finally set their eyes on each other. This is known as Subho Drishti.
The couple then exchange their garlands. A fun element is added when the relatives of both bride and the groom hoist them up to make it difficult to reach! The wedding highs!
The bride is then brought into the mandap, where she is seated opposite to the groom and an elderly male member of the bride’s family unite their hands and it is bound by sacred thread, and the priest chants the mantras whereby the bride is officially given away to the groom.
The priest ties a knot between the end of the bride’s saree and the grooms shawl. The couple then have to go around the fire seven times, while uttering the seven sacred vows.
Next the groom applies Sindoor on the bride’s hair and he covers her head with a new saree known as the Lajjabastra.
That’s it then! You’re officially hitched!
All said and done, the last and most important thing to keep in mind is to keep each other happy.