Bengali wedding rituals

Bengali wedding rituals
The blowing of the conch shells along with ululation by the women are some characteristics of a Bengali wedding. Laced with elaborate rituals and colorful customs, Bengali weddings are an occasion of great revelry and jolly celebrations. A certain somberness and intellectual dignity differentiates Bengali weddings from the rest. Let us delve a little deeper to understand the Bengali biye.
Adan pradan: This ritual involves the prospective bride and groom along with the elders of their family sitting with the priest who after establishing that the couple are not close relatives or of the same lineage, sets the date of the wedding.

Aashirbaad/Patri patra: Performed a few days before the wedding, it is a confirmation of the marriage alliance formally. In the holy presence of Lord Narayana, the groom's family (excluding the groom) visits the bride and blesses her with gifts. The same ceremony is reciprocated by the bride's family thereafter.

Ai buddo bhaat: This ritual refers to the last maiden meal that the girl partakes at her own house before she is married off. Giving her company are close relatives and friends of the the bride. Simultaneously, the ritual also takes place at the groom's house.

Vridhi puja: The vridhi puja is conducted to honor all the ancestors of both the bride and groom. It is performed a day before the wedding by the paternal uncle of the bride/groom. All the required items are arranged in a baran dala (a silver plate) which is decorated with the 'shri' symbol.

Dodhi mongol: At the crack of dawn on the wedding day, ten married women from both sides take the bride/groom separately to a nearby lake/pond to formally invite Goddess Ganga. They also carry back a pitcher of water to bathe the bride/groom. Post the bath, the couple are served a lavish meal of fried fish, rice, curd and chiruya (poha), which is their last meal till they are married.

Piris: This involves the wedding piris (wooden seats) being brought to the venue amidst the blowing of conch shells and ululations. They are specially crafted and decorated by close friends and relatives.

Gae holud tattva: This refers to the haldi ceremony where turmeric paste is applied to the groom. The same paste is then sent to the bride's place along with the tattva (gifts) for the bride and her family members. The arrival of the tattva is met with the blowing of the conch shells. The bride's haldi ceremony then commences.

Adhibas tattva: Adhibas tattva refers to the gifts that the bride's family sends for the groom's side. Placed on kasar thala (a brass plate), the gifts include saris, sweets, curd and fish.

Kubi patta: It is a short ceremony to revere Saint Kuber, held at both the bride's and groom's houses.

Snan: This ceremony involves bathing the bride and groom individually which takes place in the afternoon of the wedding day. Married women apply turmeric and oil to the couple, who then go for a bath. They change into new clothes given by their respective in-laws. Their old clothes are given away to a barber.

Sankha porana: The bride in her maternal home wears the sankha porana (conch shell bangles) that have been dipped in turmeric water in the company of seven married women and the priest chanting mantras.
Bor jatri: This refers to the groom and his kinsmen undertaking the journey to the wedding venue.

Bor boron: When the bor jatri arrives at the venue, the bride's mother along with other members come out to welcome the groom with the traditional aarti, sprinkling trefoil and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow. Generally, the bride's maternal uncle or brother lifts up the groom and escorts him to the altar.

Potto bostro: After the groom is seated at the wedding altar, he is offered a set of new clothes by the person who is to do the sampradan, most often the father of the bride.

Saat paak: The bride seated on the piri is lifted by her brothers and is taken around the groom in seven complete circles while her face remains covered by two betel leaves.

Shubho drishti: This ritual marks the moment when the bride and groom look at each other for the first time during the wedding.

Mala bodol: After having exchanged loving glances, the couple now exchanges garlands of fragrant flowers thrice.

Sampradan: The couple then sits at the altar where the bride is given away to the groom by the father of the bride (or any male member). A sacred thread is tied to the couple while mantras are being chanted.

Yagna: The couple sits in front of the fire, chanting mantras after the priest and invokes the blessings of Agni, the fire god. They encircle around the fire thereby solemnizing the occasion.

Anjali: The bride's brother puts puffed rice into her hands. The groom holds her from the back and together, they make an offering to the fire.

Sindoor daan and Ghomta: The groom now puts sindoor from a small pot on the bride's hair parting. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta (veil).
Bashor ghor: According to Bengali customs, the groom spends the night at the bride's place where night-long fun and merriment continues.

Bashi biye: Not much in vogue these days, the groom puts sindoor on the bride, visits the mandap and prays to Sun god.

Bidaai: The bride finally is ready to leave her maternal home. The newlyweds are usually escorted by the groom's father/uncle/brother.

Bou boron: This refers to the formal welcome of the newlyweds to the groom's house. The bride is made to dip her feet into a plate of alta (colored red dye) and walk into the house. Amidst ringing of bells and conch shells, the groom puts an iron bangle onto the bride's left arm.

Bou bhaat: Bou bhaat signifies the first time that the bride serves food (usually rice preparations) to her in-laws. The groom gifts her sari at this point. It is generally followed by the reception in the evening.

Kaal ratri: This ritual takes place on the second night after the wedding where the newlyweds are not allowed to even look at each other.

Phool shojja: The last of the wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom are adorned in new clothes. Their nuptial bedroom is decorated with fresh flowers and they are left alone to enjoy conjugal bliss. Generally, the clothes and flowers arrive as gifts from the bride's house.