Bengali Wedding Rituals

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 Dressing Up The Bride
Aashirwad Mandap
Ceremony Welcomming The Groom
Vridhi The Wedding Ceremony
Dodhi Mangal Basar Ghar
Piris Bashi Biye
Gae Halud Tattva Bidaai
Adhibas Tattva Bou Baran
Kubi Patta Bou Bhat
Snan Phool Sajja
Sankha Porano Dira Gaman
Adan Pradan
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 ritual is performed on anyday not earlier than one month before the wedding and not later than one day prior to the wedding. The groom goes to the house of the bride. The bride's family gives him gifts. He also gets gold, in the form of a ring or chain. He is anointed with a sandalwood tilak on his forehead. Some dhaan (rice husk signifying plentitude) and darba grass (symbolising that he will treat the bride with tenderness) is offered to him. He is then offered mishti (sweets).
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.
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) 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.
Dodhi Mangal or Ai Buddo Bhaat
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
The bride is made to sit in the midst of four plantain trees kept at four corners of the room. Traditionally, the plantain leaf symbolises the blessings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. The presence of these trees is required throughout the wedding ceremony. She is then anointed with turmeric paste.
Adhibas Tattva
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. 
Kubi Patta
This is a short ceremony to revere Saint 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).
Sankha Porano
The priest chants specific Sanskrit verses. Then seven married women adorn the bride's hands with the traditional bangles made of shell and coral. Since real coral bangles are too expensive, they have been substituted today with red plastic or lac bangles. The shell is supposed to mirror the qualities of the moon, thereby implying that the girl remain serene and calm. The coral is supposed to be beneficial for health. Alongside, the girl also wears a bangle made of iron (loha), which is given by the groom. This signifies that this relationship assumes the qualities of iron, i.e. to be tough and enduring. Then lunch is served to all those who are present. The bride is then dressed up for the wedding.
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.
Welcomming 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.
Basar Ghar
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.
Bashi Biye
The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with vermillion. 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.
Bou Baran
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.
Bou Bhat
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.
Phool Sajja
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.
Dira Gaman
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.
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