The tying of the nuptial knot in traditional Bengali wedding entails a series of elaborate and colorful rituals. The Bengali wedding is an elaborate and long affair. The wedding rituals spans the period of three days, which includes pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals. Blowing of the conch shell and ululation by the women gathered at the wedding venue heralds the beginning of a traditional Bengali marriage.
- Ashirbaad - On an auspicious day, the elders of the groom’s side go to bless the bride by sprinkling husked rice and trefoil on their heads and giving them gold ornaments. The same is done by the bride’s family for the groom. This symbolizes acceptance of the boy and the girl from both sides.
- Decoration - An alpona (rangoli) is drawn and designs like lotus flowers or fish may depict various auspicious elements of the wedding. In addition, a small banana tree is placed at the entrance of the house. Under the tree a copper vessel called mangal ghot is placed. The door is decorated with a string of mango leaves, which stays on for a period of one year after the marriage.
- Vridhi Ceremony - In this ceremony, the ancestors are worshipped. This takes place both in the house of the bride as well as the groom.
- Holud Kota - In this ceremony, five or seven married women of the household grind turmeric with mortar and pestle and anoint the bride with turmeric paste. This adds radiance to the bride’s complexion and makes her skin glow.
- Adhibash - At the eve of the marriage day, seven married ladies adorn the bride’s hands with the traditional bangles Shakha and Paula that are one pair of red and one pair of white bangles respectively.
- Wedding Piris - Piris are artistically designed and painted wooden planks usually decorated by a close friend or relative. The bride and the groom sit together on these piris followed by the blowing of Conch Shells.
- Tattvas - Tattvas are the gifts that are exchanged between the bride’s family and the groom’s family before and after the wedding. The gifts that are sent to the bride from the groom’s house are called Gae hallud tattva. Along the same lines, the gifts that go to the groom’s house from the bride’s house are called Adhibas Tattva.
Main Wedding Rituals
- Bor Jatri - The groom and his family members 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, the mother of the bride along with other members welcome the groom and his family with the holy earthen lamp, sprinkling trefoil, and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow (kula). They are then served with sweets and drinks.
- Potto Bastra - The groom is seated at the chadnatolla (wedding altar and canopy), that is the sanctum sanctorum where only the groom, bride and the priest takes their place. There 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 - In this ceremony, the bride is seated on a low wooden stool called piri and is lifted by her brothers and is taken round the groom in seven complete circles. The significance is that they are eternally joined to each other.
- Mala Badal - After the circles are completed, the bride perched high on the piri exchanges garlands of fragrant flowers with the groom for three times. This marks 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 occasion is characterized by fun and revelry as the couple are on the receiving end of teasing comments and jokes from their relatives.
- Yagna - The bride and groom sit in front of the sacred fire and chant mantras after the priest. The fire god, Agni, is made the divine witness to the marriage.
- Anjali - An offering is made to the fire. 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.
- Bidaay - This symbolizes the emotion-packed farewell moment. This moment is a mixture of joy and sorrow as the bride bids 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. This is done probably to get a refreshing sleep and prepare for the next day’s final wedding ceremony.
- Bou Bhaat & Bodhu Boron - The girl cooks food items and herself serves all the members of her husband’s family. A feast is held in her honor to treat the guests who bestow gifts on the new bride.
- Phool Shojja - The married couple is left alone together for the first time in their room to enjoy conjugal bliss on a bed laid with flowers.
The traditional Bengali wedding is an amalgamation of several rituals both somber and fun-filled. The marriage not only symbolizes the joining of two entities in a never-ending bond but also is an occasion that is marked with familial togetherness and unity. A concept that is increasing getting lost in today’s modern, nuclear and fast-paced lifestyle.