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Bengali Wedding Program
This pre-engagement ceremony simply means ‘give and take.’ After the girl and the boy approve each other, the family elders consult a purohit and match the ancestral lines. This is done to make sure that the wedding doesn’t take place within people of the same gotra (lineage) or close relatives. Then, the date of the wedding is set in accordance with the auspicious months of the Indian calendar.
This engagement and blessing ceremony takes place a few days before the wedding. On this auspicious day, the elders and relatives of the groom’s side go over to the bride’s’s house to bless her with ‘doobbo’ (three bladed grass), ‘dhaan’ (husked rice), and gold ornaments. The bride’s family elders reciprocate this at the groom’s house. This day symbolizes the final acceptance of the alliance.
Aai Budo Bhaat
This is like a bachelorette party or rather, the bride’s last meal as a maiden in her parents’ home. The mother prepares a lavish spread of traditional Bengali dishes for her daughter. The entire extended
family is invited on this bonhomie-filled occasion. Held the day before the wedding, Aai Budo Bhaat can also be hosted by close relatives, and symbolizes everybody’s approval.
Known as Haldi Ubtan in other communities, Gai Halood happens at the crack of dawn on the day of the wedding. In this fun-filled ritual, the groom is anointed with scented oils and turmeric paste. Close relatives happily take part in the ritual and do not spare the opportunity to tease him. After he has been anointed, this paste is sent to the bride for her ceremony.
The bride’s ceremony is a bit more elaborate. She is fed Dahi Mangal before sunrise, and has to fast till the marriage ceremonies are over (which often means a whole day going into late night). A conch is blown when the turmeric paste and gifts arrive from the groom’s house. The Totto or trousseau comprises of sweets, saris and a whole raw fish, often decked up like a bride.
This morning ceremony is generally performed in the groom’s and bride’s house separately, to pay respects to the family ancestors and seek their blessings. A paternal uncle conducts the ritual in the presence of a purohit. Traditionally, the bride, groom as well as the uncles should be on a liquid diet The home is decorated with Alpona, a traditional form of rangoli, lamps and incense are lit, and strings of mango leaves are placed over the doorway. An idol of Narayan is worshipped. The mango leaves stay on till the first wedding anniversary.
Piris are traditional stools made with wooden planks found in many Bengali householdsand are used to seat the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. A day before the wedding, these are brought to the bride’s house amidst ululation and the blowing of conch shells. A friend or relative offers to decorate and paint the piris with traditional motifs, and is offered betel (paan), sweets, curd and fish as a thanksgiving gesture.
These are the gifts given to the groom by the bride’s family – clothes, sweets, fruits and fish for the groom and a sari for the mother-in-law. More sweets, fish, curd, durba grass, dhaan (wheat), and paan
(betel), are borne on a brass platter to the groom’s home. The gift bearers are welcomed warmly by the groom’s family.
Please do take a few minutes to read follow-up posts on Bengali Wedding and Post-Wedding Program.
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