Fascinating facts about Bengali Traditional Wedding
Bengali's obsession with Durga Pujo, football, fish, and sweets is popular, but there are others that are lesser-known. For instance, they are just as obsessed with their wedding ceremonies, as can be witnessed during a traditional Bengali wedding. A traditional wedding is arranged by Ghotoks (matchmakers), who are generally friends or relatives of the couple. The matchmakers facilitate the introduction among the family and the prospective bride and groom. A Bengali Wedding often referred to as ‘Biye’ is quite a visual treat.
They are elaborate affairs with celebrations spanning for 2-3 days from morning till night. The rituals and their executions are subtly different among the two main subcultures in Bengal, the Bangals (Bengali Hindus originating from modern-day Bangladesh) and the Ghotis (the ones originating in West Bengal).
We would love to say that a ‘Biye’ is such an eye-candy scenario for each soul who attains it. From the decorations with the colorful flower garlands to the mouthwatering food menu, they are surely one of the most extravagant celebrations, and believe us or not, being a part of it is an experience of a lifetime.
Do you want to witness a fairy tale? Be a part of a Bengali Wedding without a doubt. It is certainly more than just a union of two souls, it is a fairy-tale which goes beyond love, promises and bond of a lifetime, Bengali wedding will always leave you dumbstruck.
Bengali wedding is a grand festival, because it is not a one or two-day affair, but can go on for more than a week as well. More often than not, friends and family members are seen frequently visiting the house of the bride or the groom for the entire week before the wedding day...yeah that's true!
It is not necessary to involve the bride and the groom in every ritual as many rituals require the involvement of friends and family members as well. These rituals can be performed before, during and even after the wedding day, which requires the involvement of many.
Arranged by a Ghotok or your mobile app, both the bride and groom must agree, and once both the families come to the agreement, the merry time of all the rituals start. A series of rituals are followed which can be divided into three sections:
- Pre-Wedding Rituals
- Wedding Rituals
- Post Wedding Rituals
Paka Katha or Pati Potro: This ritual refers to a formal meeting between the elders of the bride’s and groom’s families to formally agree on the different facets of the marriage. Paka Dekha is the term used by the Ghotis while Pati Potro happens among the Bangals.
Ashirvad: The popular ceremony of engagement is known as Ashirvad in Bengali weddings. In this the groom, along with his close friends and family members, visit the bride’s house with lots of gifts and shower blessings on her. The gifts can include a plethora of attractive things including sarees, jewelry, other clothes, sweets and expensive nuts. On the day of Ashirvad, the alliance is fixed. Both the parties formally accept the bride and the groom as new members of their families.
Aiburobhat: This is sort of a version of a Bridal shower that takes place in the afternoon or night before the wedding day. Generally, close friends and relatives gather at the bride’s house and shower her with gifts. Then she is treated to an elaborate feast with rice, fish and several vegetable dishes. This is said to be her last meal as a spinster. A similar ritual is observed at the groom’s place where he takes his last meal as a bachelor.
Vridhi: This is an age-old ritual performed during Bengali weddings. The senior people from both the bride’s and the groom’s families perform a puja where they worship the ancestors of both the families and seek their blessings for the new couple.
Dodhi Mongol: At dawn on the day of marriage seven married ladies adorn the bride's hands with the traditional bangles Shakha and Paula – one pair of red and one pair of white conch-shell bangles, and feed her a meal of curd and rice, nowadays other dishes as well, the only meal after which the bride and her parents fast the whole day. This ritual is celebrated on the groom's side also.
Ganga Nimontron: The ritual of inviting the Goddess of the holy River Ganga follows the Dodhi Mangal ritual. In this ritual, the mother of the bride goes to the river Ganga with a brass pot also known as ‘Kalsi’, and invites the goddess. Friends and family members also accompany the bride’s mother, and the ritual is called ‘Ganga Nimontron’. She fills the pot with the water from the Ganga and brings it back home. This water is to be used to bathe the bride or groom after their Gaye Holud ceremony.
Gaye Holud and Tattwa: A turmeric paste made from grinding fresh turmeric with mustard oil is applied on the groom’s body by his mother and other married female relatives. He is then bathed with the water procured in the morning. The remaining turmeric paste is put in a silver bowl and sent to the bride’s place along with her entire trousseau a simple outfit to be worn during the Gaye Holud and a whole Rohu fish. The Gaye Holud is then performed at the bride’s place in a similar fashion to the grooms.
After Gaye Holud, the bride proceeds to get ready for the Wedding Day evening.
Sankha Pola Porano: In some traditions, the bride is made to wear traditional Bengali symbols of marital bliss, the Sankha which is a bangle made from Conch Shells, and Pola Bangles made from red Corals, on the evening before the wedding day.
After all the pre-wedding rituals, the main excitement paves in. The wedding evening starts and the wedding rituals are followed one by one.
The Bor Jatri: The groom is accompanied by his friends and family to the bride’s home where the marriage takes place. This journey is enjoyed with a lot of music and joyful dance by all.
Bor Boron: This ritual is performed to welcome the groom. It is mainly performed by the elders of the family. The groom is welcomed by a Boron Dala that is mainly held by a female. The Boron Dala contains Kumkum, incense stick, lamp sticks, sweets, and rice.
Potto Bostro: After the groom is welcomed, he is taken to the ‘mandapa’. There he is given clothes to change, which he will be wearing throughout the series of rituals that follow for the marriage.
Saanth Paak: This is one of the most exciting rituals in a Bengali marriage. Here the bride is told to be seated on a ‘Piri’ which is then lifted by her brothers, while she sits on it. The brothers hold the ‘Piri’ and take 7 rounds around the groom.
Subho Drishti: The Saanth paak is followed by the Subho Drishti. This is a ritual where the bride removes the betel leaves from the front of her face, which she had been holding during Saanth Paak. She then looks at the groom and the eye contact is established.
Mala Badal: This is the ritual where the bride and the groom exchange garlands thrice with each other.
Sampradan: It is one of the most sacred rituals in which finally the hands of the bride is given to the hands of the groom. This is done under the ‘chadnatala’ inside the marriage ‘mandapa’ by a male member of the family, preferably by the father of the bride.
Yagna: The Yagna is done while chanting Vedic Mantras by the priest. The Yagna is aimed at pleasing the gods and goddesses to get their blessings for the newlywed.
Saptapadi: After the Yagna, the bride and the groom cover six rounds around the fire of the Yagna. The ritual of Saptapadi is believed to establish the union of the two souls for eternity.
Hom: The bride and the groom then sit beside each other in front of the sacred fire while the priest utters Vedic mantras which they dutifully repeat after. All the while they have to periodically make offerings to the fire after the end of the verses.
Sindoor Daan: Sindoor daan is the final wedding ritual of the marriage ceremony. In this ritual, the groom puts Sindoor on the forehead of the bride without looking at her, while the bride puts a saree over her head called ‘ghoomta’.
Post Wedding Rituals
The several post-wedding rituals that have been traditionally followed by Bengalis for decades are as follows:
Bashor Ghar: After the marriage is complete, the bride and groom are seated together surrounding friends and family. People here sing, talk, dance, and enjoy their hearts out.
Bashi Biye: This is the next day after the marriage. Here the bride and the groom are still at the bride’s place. On this day, the groom again puts sindoor on the forehead of the bride.
Bidai: On the day of Bashi Biye, all the elders gather together in the bride’s home and shower their blessings on the couple, after which the bride leaves her father’s house and starts for her new abode, along with the groom.
Bou Boron: Bou Boron is the welcoming of the bride in the groom’s house. In this ritual, the bride puts her feet into a plate filled with dye and milk. Then she walks with the stained feet on a white sheet of cloth and enters her new abode.
Kaal Ratri: This is the night after the marriage day. This is the most difficult night for the newlywed couple, as they have to spend the night in separate rooms and are not allowed to spend the night together.
Bou Bhat: This ritual has taken a huge shape in recent times. Previously, the bride used to prepare special dishes for all the members of her new family. However, nowadays, a big ceremony is arranged by the groom’s family to introduce the new bride to the entire family. The husband presents his wife with clothes and sweets on a platter and promises to take care of her for the rest of their lives. Then she offers the members of the family rice and ghee during mealtime.
Dira Gaman: This is the ritual in which the bride and the groom visit the bride’s house as a newlywed couple for the first time. A Satyanarayan puja is performed and the thread tied on the hands of the bride and groom during the wedding is cut by the ‘purohit’.
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