The Bengalis are gifted with a sweet-sounding language and a sweet tooth. Their weddings are never over in a hurry. Every moment is cherished, and there is a ceremony for every moment. The pre-wedding rituals are many and together, they work at building the excitement in anticipation of the wedding day.
Adan Pradan (give and take) is a ceremony that involves the matching of ancestral lines or bangsas in the presence of a purohit (priest). The purpose is to ensure that the marriage does not take place between close relatives or persons having the same gotra (lineage).
This is a confirmation of the marriage alliance. It takes place a couple of days before the wedding. The ceremony is conducted by a purohit at the residence of the bride or the groom.
The purohit brings an idol of Bhagwan Narayan. The bride's family pays a visit to the groom and blesses him in the presence of the purohit. The groom's family blesses the bride in similar fashion.
The bride/groom must touch the feet of the elders at the end of the ceremony to take their blessings (aashirwad).
The bride is given a sari, a ring and other ornaments. The groom is presented with a ring, gold buttons and watch at the aashirwad ceremony.
For the Aashirwad Ceremony
An alpana or rangoli of lotus flowers or fish. Rice paste is mixed with water for the
rangoli. A small banana tree, to be placed at the entrance of the house. Under the tree is placed the mangal ghot (a small copper pitcher). In the ghot, a mango stem with five leaves (amra pallab) is placed in water. A
Sri symbol is drawn next to the ghot, using sindoor mixed in oil. Diyas (oil lamps) and agarbattis (incense) to light during the ceremony.
This is about offering puja to the ancestors of the bride and the groom. The ceremony is performed a day before the marriage. It is attended by all the family members. Alpana or rangoli is done and on it is placed a ghot with amra pallab. All the samagri or items for the puja are arranged in a baran dala. A baran dala is a silver plate containing items for puja. A 'Sri'
symbol is made in the baran dala. The purohit brings an idol of Bhagwan Narayan to the puja. The idol is worshipped by lighting agarbattis
(incense sticks) and diyas (lamps). The vridhi is usually performed by a paternal uncle. Tradition demands that the uncle and the bride/groom be on a liquid diet.
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. The meal consists of macher laija bhaja (fried fish) followed by jal dhala bhaja (rice cooked in water). Curd and chiruya complete the meal.
The piris are brought to the bride's house a day before the wedding or on the wedding day. A relative or friend paints and decorates the piris which are used to seat the bride and the groom during the wedding ceremony. When the decoration is completed and the piris presented by the proud artist, conch shells are blown and ululation taken up. Tattvas Tattvas or gifts are exchanged between the families of the bride and the groom prior during the pre-wedding and post-wedding ceremonies.
Gae halud tattva
This is sent before the haldi or turmeric ceremony. It is for the bride from the groom's house. The gifts include at least six sarees with blouses, petticoats and cosmetics to go with them. Also among the gifts are fish, assorted sweets, curd, paan, dhaan and durba. A relative of the groom arrives at the bride's house with an entourage of servants bearing the gifts. Incense is lit welcome them and conch shells are blown. The bearers are given sweets and bakshish (reward)
This is the name given to the gifts coming from the bride's house. It includes a saree for the groom's mother, and fish, sweets, curd, paan, dhaan, and durba. The gifts come on a brass plate or kasar thala borne by servants from the bride's house. They are welcomed as warmly as the groom's gift bearers who visit the bride's house.
This is a short ceremony to revere Sant Kuber. It takes place in the houses of the bride and the groom. On the day of the marriage, offerings are made at the altar of the Saint. The family members place three metal glasses filled to the brim with dhaan, khoi (pulses), and crushed rice.
The snan literally means bathing. In this case, it stands for the bathing rituals that the bride and groom must individually follow on the day of the wedding. The snan takes place in the late afternoon or evening. A few married women apply turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride/groom. After bathing, the bride and groom must 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).
The bride in her maternal home follows the tradition of wearing sankha porana or conch shell bangles that have been dipped in turmeric water. After her bath she wears a new sari and wears the sankha poranas.
Dressing up the bride
This is a ritual in itself. The bride adorns herself in all her bridal finery. Her hair is tied into a bun and covered with a veil. The mukut is placed on her head and secured in place by pinning it to the veil. After her bridal makeover, a design of the mukut is traced on her face using the chandan paste. The bride must sit with the gaach kouto and kaajal laata for the ceremonies that follow.
The mandap is the place where the wedding ceremony is conducted. Two banana trees are planted at the mandap and a large alpana is made with rice paste. The mandap is decorated for the event with flowers and lights.
For the vridhi, Fruits, sweets, five paans or betel leaves, curd, milk, durba or grass stalks, dhaan or rice husk, and cow dung.
For dodhi mangal A pitcher, fried fish (macher laija bhaja), some rice cooked in water the previous night (jal dhala bhat), curd and dry flattened rice (chiruya).
For wedding piris Two wooden planks (piris), paint and brushes. Fish, curd, sweets and betel leaves (paan).
For the Tattvas ceremony incense, conch shells and sweets to welcome the gift bearers.
For Kubi Patta Three metal glasses filler with dhaan, khoi (pulses), and crushed rice.
For the snan Turmeric, oil, water, and new clothes.
For Sankha Porana Conch shell bangles, turmeric water, and a new sari.
For the bridal dressing A banarasi sari (usually red in colour), ornanments, a red veil, a mukut (crown), gaach kouto (a blade of grass), a silver kaajal lata (container for kohl), and chandan (sandalwood).
For the groom's attire Dhoti, kurta, topor (a conical cap made of sola pith, chaddar and chandan.
For the mandap two banana trees, flowers, lights, rice paste for the alpana.
PRE WEDDING MUST-KNOWS
During the dodhi mangal ceremony, food is served to the bride and the groom. The couple must eat well for they will be having their next meal only after all the wedding rituals are over.
The person who decorates the wedding piris must be rewarded with an offering of fish, curd, sweets and paan.
The bearers who bring the tattvas are to be given sweets and bakshish (reward).
For the gae halud tattva, the gifts that go for the bride from the groom's house must include at least six sarees with blouses, petticoats, cosmetics, big fish, assorted sweets, curd, paan, dhaan (rice) and durba (rice husk).
For the adhibas tattva, the gifts that go to the groom's house includes a saree for his mother, and fish, sweets, curd, paan, dhaan, and durba. The gifts must be arranged on a brass plate or kasar thala.
After the snan, the bride and groom must wear a set of new clothes that have been gifted to them by their in-laws.
Welcoming the groom
The groom and his relatives arrive at the bride's house to the ringing of bells, blowing of conch shells and ululation. The baran dala is held by an elder female relative of the bride's and the plate is first touched to the groom's forehead, then to ground, and back again to his forehead in a gesture of part blessing, part-reverence. The groom is offered sweets and sherbet. Water is sprinkled on the doorstep as the groom steps into the house to mark the auspicious moment. Both, the mother of the bride and of the groom do not attend this ceremony. It is believed that this will protect the couple from the 'evil eye'.
The Wedding Ceremony
The purohit conducts the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom exchange garlands while the purohit chants mantras. Her paternal or maternal uncle gives the bride away. This particular part of the ceremony is called sampradhan.
Baran dala (a silver plate arranged with rice, turmeric, etc. to welcome the bride and groom with), sweets and sherbet for welcoming the groom.
Garlands for the bride and groom to exchange during the wedding ceremony.
POST WEDDING MUST-KNOWS
For the bou baran, The bride must be presented with ornaments and saris. Her new husband must slip an iron bangle on his wife's left arm.
For the phool sajja, The flowers and clothes for this ceremony come from the bride's house.
POST WEDDING MUST-HAVES
For the games that are played during the basar ghar, Paddy and cowries.
For bashi biye, Sindoor (vermilion paste) and darpan (a hand mirror).
For the bidaai, the chaddar (shawl) of the groom and the bride's veil which were tied in a knot during the wedding ceremony.
For the bou baran, Water, a flat metal plate containing a mixture of lac dye and milk, sweets, sherbet, rice, rice husk, piris.
For the bou bhat, A new plate
For the dira gaman, Conch shells.
The bride and groom are welcomed inside the bride's home. There is merry-making and the couple is served dinner. Jokes and poetry recitals by friends and relatives keep the couple awake all through the night.
The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with vermilion. He does this by looking into a mirror. The newly-weds visit the mandap, and worship the Sun God in the presence of the purohit.
This ceremony marks the departure of the bride and groom. From here they set off for the groom's home. The newly weds are blessed by the elders.
This ritual is performed to welcome the bride and groom to the latter's home. The women of the house pour water on the ground beneath their vehicle when they alight. The groom's elder brother's wife holds a plate containing lac dye and milk under the bride's feet. Having imprinted the soles of her feet thus, she leads her by the arm into the house. The elders of the house bless the newly weds.
It is during this ceremony that the bride has her first meal in the home of her in-laws. Until now, her meals usually arrive from a neighbour's house. This ceremony is followed by a reception in the evening, hosted by the groom's father.
The last of the wedding ceremonies, this occasion sees the bride in a new sari and the groom in a new dhoti and kurta. Their nuptial bedroom is beautifully decorated with flowers, which is why the term, phool sajja. The flowers, clothes and sweets for the occasion usually arrive as gifts from the bride's house.
A ceremony that is conducted when the newly-weds visit the bride's house for the first time after the wedding. The thread that was tied by the purohit on the bride's wrist during the wedding rituals is cut during this ritual. Conch shells are blown to the accompaniment of ululation to mark the auspicious moment.