By Namrata Arora Last Updated:
Weddings are special and India being a land of many cultures and regions, they just gets better. Each of them follow a religion that has its own set of rites and rituals for marriages as well as other occasions. This diversity is what makes our country a beautiful blend of traditions and colours.
Weddings of every region and community differ from each other, yet what remains common is the respect for traditions and their rich spiritual significance. 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.
After the couple approves of each other as life partners, their families get together along with a priest. The priest studies their horroscopes to make sure that there is no matching line of lineage between the two parties. Then both the families exchange gifts.
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This ritual is done as a mark of acceptance for the bride and the groom by their respective in-laws. The bride’s family visits the groom’s house to shower their blessing on him and vice-versa. They sprinkle tref oil leaves and husked rice on the would-be bride and groom, and gift gold ornaments to them.
This puja is done to remember and take the blessings of the bride and groom’s ancestors.
In simpler terms, it is the night when the bride enjoys her last meal at her parent’s house before she gets married. This is a night dedicated to her, where her family and close friends sing and dance.
In this ritual, the bride receives gifts that are sent to her with love from her in-laws. The bride is presented sarees, makeup products, different sweets, paan, curd, fish, husked rice and many more traditionally significant things.
This ceremony is performed on the dawn of the wedding day at the houses of both the parties separately. The would-be couple is accompanied by a few married women to a nearby pond, where they take blessings from Goddess Ganga. They bride and the groom then bring home a pitcher of water from that pond.
Similar to the Haldi ceremony in North India, in this ritual either five or seven married women apply turmeric paste and oil to both the bride and the groom in their respective houses. They are then supposed to bathe and wear new clothes.
This ritual is also dedicated to the bride. Here, seven married women make the bride wear conch shell bangles known as the Shakha (white bangles) and Paula (red bangles). She wears a pair of red bangles followed by a pair of white ones. After this she gets ready for the wedding.
This is where it all begins as the groom’s family proceeds to the wedding venue.
In this ritual, a baran dala (a plate) is touched to the groom’s forehead then to the ground and again to his forehead. After this, the bride’s mother performs an aarti and welcomes her guests into the venue and sweets are served.
In this the groom is given new clothes by the bride’s family after he is seated at the wedding alter, also known as the Chadnatolla. After this the bride enters the mandap.
This is a beautiful site to be witnessed only at a Bengali wedding where the bride sits on a wooden stool called a pidi/piri, and is carried to the mandap by her brothers or uncles. The bride is not supposed to see her groom when she enters the mandap, so she has to keep her eyes covered with sacred beetle leaves. Keeping her lifted up on the stool, her brothers’ then walk around the groom seven times.
After the seven rounds, when the bride and the groom look at each other in presence of all the guests, this is called Subho Dristi.
After that, bride and groom exchange flower garlands while the bride is still seated on the pidi. They exchange the garlands three times.
Here, the bride and groom both sit at the altar as an elder member of the bride’s family (who carried out the Potto Bastra earlier) gives the bride’s hand in to the groom’s hand. Then their hands are tied with a sacred thread as the priest recites Vedic chants.
Yagna, is where the priest recites mantras and the couple sits in front of the holy fire while he does so. The couple then take seven rounds around the fire, which are known as Saptapadi/Saat paak. The bride and the groom also have to touch seven suparis kept on seven paan leaves with their toes.
Herein, the couple offers puffed rice handed over by the bride's brother, to the fire God.
After all the rituals are done, the groom applies sindoor on the bride’s hair parting. This marks the completion of their marriage rituals. After this, the bride covers her head with a Ghomta, a new saree gifted to her by her in-laws.
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This is the time where the bride bids farewell to her family and leaves for her new home with her husband and in-laws.
In this ritual, the newlyweds are welcomed to the groom’s home. Female relatives pour holy water under the vehicle in which the couple arrives. At the door, the bride then steps into a large plate containing lac dye (red in colour) and milk, and enters the new house leaving colourful footprints on the floor.
The bride and groom have to sleep in separate rooms on their first night in the groom's home.
The new bride in this ritual has to cook a dish for her new family. A lunch or dinner party is also hosted for the groom’s relatives and friends.
This is the last of all wedding ceremonies. This will be the couple’s first night together as husband and wife. Their room and the bed is decorated with flowers. The bride also gets ready in a new saree and wears flower ornaments.
Every Bengali community has certain different rituals and traditions attached to their weddings. But all said and done, Bengali weddings truly are a visual treat filled with colours, sounds and beauty!