Deciphering Bengali Wedding Rituals

It is needless to say that Bengali weddings are a treat to the eyes. From the decorations with the colorful flower garlands to the food menu, they are surely one of the most extravagant celebrations, and believe us or not, being a part of it is an experience of a lifetime.

It is a fairy-tale which goes beyond love and the promises of a lifetime. It is much more than what you can imagine of any wedding ceremony, and is especially characterized by extremely excited, enthusiastic friends and family members, happy faces flaunting their teeth all around and beautiful smiles spreading good vibes.

The rituals that are performed in a Bengali wedding may or may not involve the bride or the groom. Many rituals require the involvement of friends and family members as well. These rituals can be performed before, during and even after the wedding day, that require the involvement of many.

Adan Pradan: Adan Pradan, which means give and take in English, is the first ritual that kick-starts the entire marriage ceremony. Here, give and take is not about giving gifts or money to each other’s family. It’s the basic need for any marriage – CONSENT.

Ashirvad: The popular ceremony of engagement is known as Ashirvad in Bengali weddings. The ceremony is organized two to three days before the actual day of marriage. The groom’s close friends and family members, visit the bride’s house with lots of gifts and shower blessings on her.

Aai Budo Bhaat: This is a ritual of enjoying the last meal as a bachelor or bachelorette. One of the most awaited rituals of Bengali marriages for both the bride and the groom, Aai Budo Bhaat is immensely enjoyed with meals prepared by close relatives, parents, or friends.

Vridhi: This is an age-old ritual performed during Bengali weddings. The senior people from both the bride’s and the groom’s families perform a puja where they worship the ancestors of both the families, and seek their blessings for the new couple.

Ganga Nimontron: The ritual of inviting the Goddess of the holy River Ganga. The mother of the bride goes to the river with a brass pot also known as ‘Kalsi’ to fill, and invites the goddess Ganga. Friends and family members also accompany the bride’s mother, and the ritual is called ‘Ganga Nimontron’. 

Gaye Holud: ‘Turmeric’, known as Holud in Bengali. The Gaye Holud ritual validates the same. The groom first touches the turmeric paste that is sent to the bride’s place. This paste is then sent to the bride’s house to be applied on her. It’s more than just a ritual where everyone shares laughter and love by applying turmeric paste on each other.

Sankha Pola Porano: This is a ritual in which the purohit chants mantras and performs a puja when the bride’s hands are adorned with ‘Sankha’ and ‘Pola’ by seven married women. The ‘Sankha’ symbolises the moon, the quality of which has to be adopted by the bride. The ‘Pola’, on the other hand, symbolizes good health and fertility.

Adhibas Tatva: Adhibas Tatva are the gifts that are gifted to the groom’s family from the bride’s side. The gifts are presented in the copper container and are decorated with colourful papers.

Kubi Patta: This ritual is performed in the house of both the bride and the groom. This ritual involves worshiping the god of gold ‘Kuber’. Three metal pots are kept filled with khoi, dhan and crushed rice. The ritual is performed on the day of marriage.

Other small rituals that are followed as pre-wedding ceremony include ‘Mondop Sajano’ and ‘Kone Saaj.’

After all the pre-wedding rituals, the main excitement paves in. The wedding evening starts and the wedding rituals are followed one by one.

The Bor Jatri: The groom is accompanied by his friends and family to the bride’s home where the marriage takes place.

Bor Boron: This ritual is performed to welcome the groom. It is mainly performed by the elders of the family. The groom is welcomed by a Boron Dala that is mainly held by a female. The Boron Dala contains Kumkum, incense stick, lamp sticks, sweets and rice.

Dodhi Mangal: Bride’s mother performs this ritual from behind a curtain to bless the Groom with ‘dodhi’ and ‘khoi’, which are Bengali names for yoghurt and puffed rice respectively after arriving.

Potto Bostro: After the groom is welcomed, he is taken to the ‘mandapa’. There he is given clothes to change, which he will be wearing throughout the series of rituals that follow for the marriage.

Saanth Paak: This is one the most exciting rituals in a Bengali marriage. Here the bride is told to be seated on a ‘Piri’ which is then lifted by her brothers, while she sits on it. The brothers hold the ‘Piri’ and take 7 rounds around the groom.

Subho Drishti: This is a ritual where the bride removes the betel leaves from the front of her face, which she had been holding during Saanth Paak. She then looks at the groom and the eye contact is established.

Mala Badal: This is the ritual where the bride and the groom exchange garlands thrice with each other.

Sampradan: It is one of the most sacred rituals in which finally the hands of the bride is given to the hands of the groom. This is done under the ‘chadnatala’ inside the marriage ‘mandapa’ by a male member of the family, preferably by the father of the bride.

Yagna: The Yagna is done while chanting Vedic Mantras by the priest. The Yagna is aimed at pleasing the gods and goddesses to get their blessings for the newly wed.

Saptapadi: After the Yagna, the bride and the groom covers six rounds around the fire of the Yagna. The ritual of Saptapadi is believed to establish the union of the two souls for eternity.

Anjali: This is the ritual in which the couple offer puffed rice to the fire of the yagna.

Sindoor Daan: Sindoor daan is the final wedding ritual of the marriage ceremony. In this ritual the groom puts Sindoor on the forehead of the bride without looking at her, while the bride puts a saree over her head called ‘Lajja Bastra’.

Now that the bride and the groom are married, the real fun of the post wedding rituals starts. The several post-wedding rituals that have been traditionally followed by Bengalis for decades are as follows:

Bashor Ghar: After the marriage is complete, the bride and groom are seated together surrounding friends and family. People here sing, talk, dance, and enjoy their hearts out.

Bashi Biye: This is the next day after the marriage. Here the bride and the groom are still at the bride’s place. On this day, the groom again puts sindoor on the forehead of the bride & they covers seven rounds around a Bamboo structure.

Bidai: On the day of Bashi Biye, all the elders gather together in the bride’s home and shower their blessings on the couple, after which the bride leaves her father’s house and starts for her new abode, along with the groom.

Bodhu Boron: Bou Boron is the welcoming of the bride in the groom’s house. In this ritual, the bride puts her feet into a plate filled with red dye and milk. Then she walks with the stained feet on a white sheet of cloth and enters her new abode.

Kaal Ratri: This ritual happens on the night after the marriage day & the next day. This is the most difficult time for the newlywed couple, as they have to spend a entire day in separate rooms and are not allowed to see each other.

Bou Bhat: This ritual has taken a huge shape in the recent times. Previously, the bride used to prepare special dishes for all the members of her new family. However, nowadays, a big ceremony is arranged by the groom’s family to introduce the new bride to the entire family.

Dwira Gaman: This is the ritual in which the bride and the groom visit the bride’s house as a newlywed couple for the first time. The thread tied on the hands of the bride and groom during the wedding is cut by the ‘purohit’.

These are the traditional Bengali wedding rituals & customs, among which, many have been transformed with time. But let me tell you the best part, it doesn’t really make a difference. Bengali marriages are awesomely romantic and fun at the same time. You need to experience it yourself. You will surely fall in love with the culture and aura of the most dramatic, yet astounding celebrations of love.