The joyous and lively Indian weddings are popular across the globe.
Weddings are special and India being a land of many cultures and regions, they just gets better.
A Bengali Hindu Wedding has its own beautiful traditions and customs which reflect the beautiful yet diverse culture of India!
Traditional Bengali weddings are truly a visual delight. It is a beautiful blend of traditional rituals and customs with an urban touch. Weddings represent a rich culture and are full of color and vivacity.
The dress of both bride and groom is purely traditional for a Bengali wedding and has an individualistic charm which has for centuries been mystical and exquisite.
The bride usually dons a Benarasi silk saree which is draped in a typical Bengali manner. Red is the color that is most popular when it comes to choosing a bride’s sari but other than red, colors such as maroon, magenta and pink are also common. The Benarasi saree is decorated with heavy gold or silver zari work and embroidery which only adds to the beauty of the charming bride.
The groom wears a silk dhoti which is teamed up with a Punjabi, and he wears a topor on his head. The dhoti worn by the groom is either made from silk or cotton and earlier they were generally white, but these days the grooms don colored dhotis as well. The Punjabi of the groom is also made from silk and has heavy embroidery.
Both bride and the groom in a Bengali wedding complete their traditional attire with jewelry. The bride wears heavy gold jewelry to complement her silk sari and her look only enhances with it. Some of the traditional ornaments that you will find on a Bengali bride are kaan or earrings, nath or nose ring, chik which is a heavy necklace, panch which is again a necklace and hathphool. Shakha-paula is also a vital part of the whole wedding outfit and it is a set of white and red bangles and also some gold bangles.
The Bengali groom too dons jewelry on his wedding day and it includes chains and rings made from gold.
Bengali weddings too are an elaborate amalgamation of rituals, which are a beautiful visual treat filled with colours and merriment. Here we bring to you some basic rituals and traditions that are a part of a Bengali wedding.
During the Wedding
SYMBOLISES: THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGANS
The members of the groom’s house as well as his friends dress in their best attire and journey to the bride’s house where the wedding takes place.
SYMBOLISES: WELCOMING THE GROOM
When the bor jatri reaches the bride’s place, usually the mother of the bride along with other members come out to welcome the groom and his family by showing the holy earthen lamp, sprinkling trefoil, and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow (kula). Then they are served sweets and drinks.
SYMBOLISES: THE GROOM WILL TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HIS BRIDE FROM THAT MOMENT
After the groom is seated at the chadnatolla (wedding altar and canopy) – the sanctum sanctorum where only the groom, bride and the priest takes their place, the groom is offered new clothes by the person who is to do the sampradaan – the elderly male member of the family who does sampradan off the responsibility of the bride to the groom.
SYMBOLISES: THEY ARE SECURELY WINDED UP TO EACH OTHER
The bride usually seated on a low wooden stool called pidi is lifted by her brothers and is taken round the groom in seven complete circles. The significance is they are winded up securely to each other.
The bride removes the betel leaves – when the four eyes of the bride and groom meet
This exchange of loving glance is to initiate them to be together officially by the society.
SYMBOLISES: THE BEGININNING OF TOGETHERNESS AND ACCEPTING EACH OTHER
After the circles are completed, still sitting high on the piri, the bride and the groom exchange garlands of fragrant flowers thrice. This is the first step in which they accept each other.
SYMBOLISES: ACCEPTENCE IN FRONT OF SOCIETY
The bride and the groom exchange the garlands made of beautiful fragrant flowers 3 times.
SYMBOLISES: GIVING BRIDE HAND INTO GROOMS HAND
The bride then takes her place at the chadnatolla where an elderly male member of the bride’s family hands her over to the groom and the couple’s hands are bound by the sacred thread amidst recital of Vedic chants and are placed on the mangal ghot – a brass pitcher filled with water that is covered with mango leaves attached to one twig and a green coconut placed on it.
SYMBOLISES: BLESSING OF SACRED FIRE
The bride and groom sit in front of the sacred fire and chant mantras after the priest. Agni, the fire god is made the divine witness to the marriage.
SYMBOLISES: THEY WILL BE TOGETHER FOR NEXT 7 LIVES
The couple takes seven circular rounds around the fire thereby solemnizing the occasion.
SYMBOLISES: OFFERING MADE FOR GOD OF FIRE
An offering to the fire is made. The bride’s brother puts puffed rice (khoi) in the hands of the bride, and the groom standing close to her holds her hands from the back and extends their arms forward. They then pour the offering into the fire together.
Sindoor Daan & Ghomta
SYMBOLISES: BOTH ARE DECLARED TO BE MAN AND WIFE
Once again seated at their respective places in chadnatolla the groom applies sindoor or vermilion (a symbol of marriage worn by Hindu women thereafter) on the bride’s hair-parting. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta or veil.
SYMBOLISES: CHANCE TO LOSEEN UP AND HAVE FUN
It is after the sindoor daan that the couple are sated with their friends and fed with food and drink, thus breaking their whole day long fast. It is a time for couple and family members to have joy where all of them play games, chat, sing and dance.
SYMBOLISES: BRIDE BIDS FAREWELL TO HER FAMILY AND LEAVES FOR HER NEW HOME
The bride takes leave from her maternal house, gives farewell to her family, relatives and friends to start her new life in her new home with her groom and his family.
SYMBOLISES: TO WELCOME THE BRIDE IN HER NEW HOME
The ritual is performed to welcome the bride. She is asked to place both her feet in a plate filled with lac dye and milk. With these colored feet she is to walk on a white piece of cloth and her foot impressions are caste on the cloth.
Fishing the Ring
SYMBOLISES: WHOEVER FINDS THE RING WILL HAVE UPPERHAND IN MARRIAGE LIFE
One of the newlywed’s rings is placed in a pot of milk or rice (or water mixed with various spices to make the water opaque). and asking the couple to ‘fish’. Whoever finds the ring first is said to have the upper hand in their relationship. The couple is made to sit facing each other or next to each other and with a bowl of milk in front of them. A ring is dropped inside the bowl and the newlyweds are asked to find the ring. Whoever gets the ring first is declared as the winner.