India is a country of colors and festivities. There is inherent beauty in its diversity. From snow-capped mountains in Kashmir to the deserts of Rajasthan, from the sun kissed beaches of Goa to the Back waters of Kerala, it is elaborately granted with natural beauty. Besides that the different cultures in different parts of it, make a dough kneaded with multitude of hues. This very thing had always attracted my attention. I wanted to feel the beat of every bit of my India. Speaking of cultures, I think wedding functions can be safely termed as the best platforms to get enlightened about it. From the loud and pompous North-Indian Wedding to the Soft Temple weddings down south, each showcase eloquently the cultural heritage, taste and economy of a region. I personally have a dream of attending each type, but it is yet to come to true. So I planned to narrate the grandeur, tradition and beauty of a Bengali Wedding. Me being a Bengali, this seemed to be easy to start with. And what could be better than to use my very own wedding pictures for the purpose.
It’s been six years since I tied the knot with my then college beau and now best buddy for life Avishek. Truly time flies, even while I narrate I can feel the butterflies in my stomach which had appeared on the day. Frankly I was not too much into dressing that time, and now I regret the mistakes I had made. Yet the memories, the pictures will be cherished till I breathe my last. Both of us had talked over the phone a night before and shared our excitement and fears, it is warm to remember those moments.
The rituals start very early, before the crow starts to caw announcing the beginning of a new day. The bride and the groom, both are supposed to fast and hence this ritual of feeding them with a strange yet tasty mix of puffed rice, sweet curd (Bengal special Misti Doi), jaggery etc.
Morning Rituals, "Haldi ceremony or Gaye Holud"
As the morning starts to unfold, the rituals of paying homage to our ancestors start and ends with the Haldi (meaning turmeric) ceremony. The groom is supposed to have the ceremony first and the turmeric paste that is used by him is sent to the bride.
Along with that comes, a bunch of gifts that the groom's family sends to the bride and her family. It is called Tattoh. No Bengali function can be complete without fish and besides it being an indispensable part of menu, it also forms a part of the Tattoh.
Fish an integral part of Bengali Wedding
The ceremony with turmeric, comes from the belief that it's a great beauty product and enhances the look of the couple on their day. Though today, most of us go through a strict beauty regime months before the day, to look our best.
Unlike North Indian weddings, Bong weddings are quite and subtle. Even the dressing of the people and the bride are not as loud. Typically dressed in Banarasi Saree in hues of pink, orange, red or maroon the bride sits pretty with her net veil and gold jewellery.
A Bengali Bride, this is me ;-)
The Bindi enhances her look to a great extent. The groom dressed in kurta and dhoti comes to woo his lady, but not with loud bursting of crackers. He silently comes and conquers (wink).
My Hubby, well not then
The evening is a task for the groom, as most of the rituals are to be performed by him. The bride appears only during "Subho Dristi" meaning the first time they see each other. But off-course it is not the case today. In a wooden plank and her face covered with betel leaves the beautiful bride arrives.
And the journey begins hand in hand
The holy seven rounds, around Fire
I am yours forever
What follows is a set of rituals, ending with "Havan" (meaning holy fire) and lastly "Sindur Daan" (meaning the ritual of the groom putting vermilion to the bride).
And eventually they are tied in the holy knot of marriage. Seeking blessings from their elders they start to traverse a path of love, respect and friendship. Talking about food, bongs cannot live without non-veg and hence the dinner spread always has fish, chicken and mutton cuisines besides the normal vegetarian items. A mouth- smacking Bengali spread, always ends with irresistible sweets.
Generally the next day, the groom takes away his bride to her new home. A ritual I hate to remember, "Bidai" (meaning Bidding Adieu).
In Bengalis the reception at the groom place called "Bou-Bhat" is the next day after Bidai, when the bride's family sends the Tattoh to the groom's. It is mostly a way of introducing the new family member to the world, besides few rituals.
Hand in Hand forever
And in this way, two individuals are brought together to spend the rest of their life hand in hand. To grow old together! India is a land of outlandish wedding ceremonies, and every way of celebrating this holy union is beautiful. As I get the chance to experience more of it, I shall share the cherished and colorful moments.
And the Bride Smiles............