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Bengali Wedding Rituals & Traditions

Bengalis are known as an intellectual community of India. The rituals of Bengali Wedding (Bong Wedding) are simple yet elegant that bring out their intellectual dignity. One of the important rituals in Bong wedding is blowing of the conch shell to mark the beginning of the auspicious event in the presence of the Almighty. Another ritual is the pious sound created during the wedding is made by Bengali women with their tongues and by beating the palms on their mouth. This is carried out throughout the ceremony. It is made to grab the attention of all the guests present there to the main ceremony.

The rituals of Bong weding start few days prior the wedding.

Aashirwad: This ritual can be conducted either at the Bengali groom's or the Bengali Bride's house. In this ritual, the groom gives gifts including a piece of gold jewelry along with some 'daan' (Rice husk signifying wellness) and the darba grass (symbolizing that he will treat the bride with tenderness). Both bride and groom then give sweets to each other.

Decoration: The door of the bride and groom's house is decorated with a string of mango leaves that remain there for a period of one year after the Wedding ceremony. At the entrance, Rangoli (designing patterns on the floor) is made along with that small banana tree placed at the side of the entry of the house. Under the Banana tree, a copper vessel called Mongol is placed.

Dodhi Mongol: This ceremony is performed by both bride and groom's houses at the crack of dawn. About ten married women accompany the bride / groom to a nearby pond. They invite Goddess Ganga to have her gracious presence at the wedding. After that, they return with a pitcher of water to bathe the bride/groom. These ladies then serve traditional food (fried fish, boiled rice along with the curd) is served to bride/groom.

Haldi Ubtan: This is a ritual when the bride is made to sit in the midst of four big plants, which are kept at four corners of the room.

Married ladies then apply the paste of turmeric and mustard oil on the bride’s body to let her skin glow. It is followed by presenting gifts to the bride. The bride's paternal uncle/aunt sends a raw fish along with turmeric, sweets, pumpkins, saris and other gifts.

Shakha Pola: In this ritual seven married women adorn the bride's hands with the traditional red & white bangles made of Coral & Shell. The coral is beneficial for the bride’s health, and the shell gives her the calmness.

Cube Patta: During this ceremony, family members place three metal glasses filled up to the brim with rice, pulses, and crushed rice respectively and kept in front of the idol of Kuber. This ceremony is celebrated to call God Kuber to bestow his blessings on the bride and groom.

Snan (Bathing): Bride and groom take a bath in their home respectively. The Bathing ceremony takes place in the late afternoon or evening, and the bride and groom must individually follow on the day of the wedding. After bathing, the bride and groom wear the new set of clothes that have been presented to them by their in-laws. The worn clothes are later given away to a napti (barber).

Mandap: Mandap is a temporary platform set up for marriage, where the wedding ceremony is conducted. The Mandap is decorated for the event with flowers and lights. Two banana trees are planted at the entrance of the Mandap, and a large Rangoli is made with rice paste.

Wedding Ceremony: The Bengali groom is well dressed in Dhoti and Kurta, along with a conical hat. He seeks the permission of his mother to get his life partner.

The mother gives the permission and offers sweet and a glass of milk to his son. The decorated car is sent to the bride's house, and a relative of the bride comes to take the groom.

The groom then along with a relative or friends leaves the house to go to the bride's home.
As per customs, groom's mother stays back. Along with the groom, a small boy also goes to the bride's place, with the similar dress as the groom has worn. He is known as neet-bar.

Welcoming the Groom:

The groom and his relative welcomed at the bride's house with ringing the bells and blowing the conch shells. The silver plate is held by an elder female relative of the bride and touch the plate with groom's forehead and then to the ground and back again on his forehead to bless him. Thereafter sweets and sweet drink (Sharbat) is offered to the groom.

Water is then sprinkled on the groom as he enters the house to mark the auspicious moment. Mother of the bride and the groom do not attend this ceremony, as it is believed that this will protect the couple from the 'evil eye'.

Bride and Groom then exchange garlands while the priest chants Mantras. Their hands are then joined with a sacred thread, and the couple is blessed.

After the prayer, the groom is given a fresh set of Dhoti and Kurta from the bride's side. The groom has to change his Dhoti-Kurta and wear the new set and the ring. After this, the bride is brought to the Mandap by his four friends on the wooden plank (Phiri). After that, there is a ritual Shubha-Drishti is commemorated.

The couple is then seated in front of the sacred fire in the Yajna ceremony. Seven circular rangolis draw near it, and one beetle leaf is placed on each of them. The girl stands in front, and as she takes her first step on the stone, the boy gently nudges her left foot with his right. She then places her foot on the first Alpana. Similarly, another seven rangolis are crossed. Then the couple has to take traditional seven circumambulations around the sacred fire.

Anjali: In this ritual, the groom takes the bride's palms in his hand, then the bride’s brother fills them with Khoi (popped rice) that is offered to the sacred fire.

The bride covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom. The groom then dips a ring in the Sindoor and traces a line of it in the parting in the bride’s hair. Now the couple is considered officially married.

After this, the bride and groom along with all guests present at the wedding are served with a grand feast. At this feast, varieties of fish are served along with a variety of other non-vegetarian dishes and sweets.

Manpan: The Bride's mother present saris to the groom's mother, sisters, and sister-in-laws. The bride's father offers gifts to the groom's father and brothers and brother-in-laws. Similarly, groom's parents offer gifts to the bride's family.

Basra Ghar: The bride and groom are welcomed in the bride's home. Jokes and poetry recitals by friends and relatives keep the couple awake all through the night.

Bashi Biye: The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with Vermillion. He does this by looking into a mirror. The newlywed couple visits the Mandap and worship the Sun God in the presence of the priest.

Bidaai: This ceremony marks the departure of the bride and groom. The couple touches the feet of elders, and the bride meets with all family members to bid a farewell. The groom takes the idol of the Goddess Parvati from Bride’s home. The couple then sits in a car followed by the possession accompanied with a band and fireworks.

Grihpravesh: The couple comes to the doorstep, and the groom's mother welcomed the couple with waving the Aarti Plate.
The bride topples a container filled with rice. It signifies that this bride that bring luck and prosperity. The couple sits and the groom place the idol of Parvati in a plate of rice and writes the bride's new name.

Soonmukh Baghane: The groom's mother sits between the couple and sees the bride's face in the mirror. The couple gives sugar/ sweets to all guests present there.

As there are different communities in Bengalis, so there can little variations in these rituals. Though the essence remains the same.

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