The Bengali wedding ceremony combines variations of a Hindu wedding and are a mixture of custom, tradition and religious beliefs. The Bengali weddings in the past were spread over seven days but with the passing of time the new generation eliminated a lot of rituals. The present day wedding is not so elaborate.
Adan Pradan (give and take) is a ceremony that involves the matching of ancestral lines or bangsas in the presence of a priest. The purpose is to ensure that the marriage does not take place between close relatives or persons having the same ancestral lineage. The date is only set after this.
The Aashirwad is a confirmation of the marriage alliance. It takes place a day or two before the actual wedding in the evening. A priest is present. The ceremony takes place at either the groom’s or the bride’s home. The door of the entrance is decorated with a string of mango leaves which stay for a period of one year after marriage. The bride is given a sari. The groom is presented with a ring, gold buttons and a watch. Lamps are lit and both he bride and groom touch the elders and receive the blessings.
Al Buddo Bhaat
This is the Bengali version of a Western bridal shower. The purpose of this ritual is to celebrate the last meal of the bride as a maiden in her parental home. The bride’s mother prepares a feast of Bengali delicacies for her daughter, which is shared by the extended family. Mishti bhaat—sweet rice (a Bengali favourite), is usually served. The bride is a gifted a special Bengali cotton sari by the relatives, which can be worn as casual wear.
Traditionally, this ceremony is performed at the crack of dawn on the day of the wedding in the house of the bride and of the groom. About ten married women accompany the bride/groom to a nearby pond. They invite the Goddess Ganga to the wedding and bring back a pitcher of water from the pond to individually bathe the bride and the groom. Then they offer food to the bride/groom.
On an auspicious day the elders of the groom’s side go to bless the bride and vice versa, by sprinkling husked rice and trefoil on their heads and giving them gold ornaments.
This refers to the blowing of the conch. Oolu¬oolu is the onomatopoeic term referring to a sound made by Bengali women simultaneously moving their tongues and beating their mouths with an open palm. It is to draw attention to the celebrations.
Early in the morning, a few married women apply grinded turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride and groom, similar to the Gujurati ceremony, Pithi. After bathing, the bride and groom must wear the new set of clothes that have been presented to them by their in-laws. The bride participates in another tradition called Shakha Paula. In this ritual, seven married women place traditional marriage bangles on the bride’s hands. The seven women represent the seven forms of God; one for each day of the week.
As the ceremony proceeds, the couple i asked to stand and walk seven times around a decorative circular pattern on the floor, reminding them of the sanctity and solemnity of marriage.
After the Saat Pheras, follows Anjali where offerings to the fire are made. The bride’s brother puts puffed rice (khoi) in the hands of the bride, the groom then holds the bride’s hand and they pour the offering into the fire together.
Ma & Badal
The bride and the groom exchange garlands of fragrant flowers three times. This is the first step in which they accept each other
A traditional Bengali wedding is completed with the Sindoor Daan. The groom applies red sindoor or vermillion (a symbol of marriage worn by Hindu women) to his bride. As a Hindu woman, the bride wears this symbol from the time of the S indoor Daan until her death. The groom then offers his bride a new sari with which she covers her head. With this the couple is then considered officially married.
This is a farewell where there is a mixture of emotions. It is a joyous occasion as the bride is begins her life with her husbands’ family but she is also saying goodbye to her owr, family. Both families wish the couple joy ir their new life.
The bride cooks and serves all the members o her husband’s family which marks her entrano into the family. A banquet is held to treat MI guests who lavish gifts on the new bride.
The couple are garlanded with flowers and ar then free to start a married life.