As a rule, weddings are joyous and a reflection of the culture. Weddings in India are a pot-pouri of pre-wedding rituals, the wedding day and post-wedding ceremonies. Different regions in India differ in the accompanying traditions and rituals of a wedding.
Of all these, Bengali wedding rituals are quite elaborate and feature extensive involvement of family members from both sides. A Bengali wedding is a gorgeous spread of ceremonies that brings together all the relatives and friends. On par with Hindu rituals, a lot of stress is laid on hospitality and blessings of elders. Also, music and dance form a significant part of these functions. One very attractive feature is the blowing of conch shells and yodeling by the women during most of the ceremonies.
Here is how a typical ceremony unfolds.
The first ceremony of the wedding, the bride and groom seek blessings of all the elders present. The families exchange gifts and sweets while officiating the relationship between two families.
Aai Buddo Bhaat
The bride’s last meal at her parent’s place as a maiden. A very emotional occasion, her favorite delicacies are prepared, and her close family members and friends partake in the feast.
Before the wedding “piris” (small wooden seats on which the couple are to be seated on the wedding day) are brought to the bride’s home. The bride’s friends and relatives paint and decorate the piris.
Smearing of turmeric powder on the couple’s faces and arms is an essential wedding ritual like in many other states of India. The paste of turmeric powder and mustard oil is first applied on the groom. The paste is then taken to the bride’s place by the groom’s family with gifts. Married women of the house then apply the turmeric mixture on the bride.
On the dawn of the wedding day, ten married women each from the bride’s and groom’s sides take them to a nearby pond to invite Goddess Ganga to the wedding. A pitcher of water is brought back to used for the couple’s baths. After the ceremonial shower, the bride is made to wear red and white glass bangles. Both the bride and the groom then wear new clothes, gifted by their respective in-laws.
The Wedding Ceremony
Starts off with the groom and his family on their way to the bride’s place (called the Bor Jatri). All members from the groom’s side are graciously welcomed by the bride’s family (Bor Boron) with a special aarti, blowing of conch shells, and yodeling. The groom’s brothers and maternal uncles carry him on their shoulders to the mandap. The bride with her face covered by two betel leaves is carried on a piri by her brothers.
The moment when the bride and the groom see each other for the first time during the wedding ceremony. This is then followed by Mala Bodol – exchanging of garlands, thrice. With the couple seated before the holy fire, the bride’s father gives his daughter's hand to the groom. A sacred thread then binds Their hands.
The couple then walk around the holy fire seven times – each an embodiment of a promise between the couple. The ceremony culminates with the Sindurdaan - wherein the groom applies sindhoor on the bride’s hair partition.
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