Bengali wedding

Bengali wedding

Bengali wedding refers to both Muslim wedding and Hindu wedding in Bangladesh and West Bengal. Although Muslim and Hindu marriages have their distinctive religious rituals, there are many common cultural rituals in marriages across religion among Bengali people.

Arranging the wedding

A traditional wedding is arranged by Ghotoks (matchmakers), who are generally friends or relatives of the couple. The matchmakers facilitate the introduction, and also help agree the amount of any settlement.

In Bengali Muslim marriages another settlement to make which is called 'Mahr' or 'Kabin' to be paid by the groom to the bride - which is a religious requirement in Muslim marriages. The amount of the settlement is set so as to avoid too many zeroes in the amount, such as 10001 rather than 10000; the final zeroes being said by some to signify bad luck.

Bengali weddings are traditionally in four parts: the bride's "Gaye Holud", the groom's "Gaye Holud", the "Beeye" and the "Bou Bhaat". These often take place on separate days. The first event in a wedding is an informal one: the groom presents the bride with a ring marking the "engagement" which is gaining popularity. This can sometimes be considered as Ashirwaad.

There can be subtle differences in Bangali Hindu marriages in Bangladesh and West Bengal. The rituals sometimes differ. Even in West Bengal people who moved from Bangladesh during pre-independence time still follows the tradition that is followed in Bangladesh today.

A Bengali Hindu Marriage can be divided into the following parts:

* Pre-wedding Rituals: "Adan Pradan, Patri Patra, Ashirvad, Aai Budo Bhaat, Vridhi, Dodhi Mangal, Holud Kota, Adhibas Tatva, Kubi Patta, Snan, Sankha Porano"

* Wedding Rituals: "Bor Boron, Potto Bastra, Saat Paak, Mala Badal, Subho Drishti, Sampradan, Yagna, Saat Pak (couple), Anjali, Sindur Daan and Ghomta"

* Post-Wedding Rituals: "Bashar Ghar, Bashi Biye, Bidaye, Bou Boron, Kaal Ratri, Bou Bhaat, Phool Sajja, Dira Gaman"

Gaye Holud (pre-marriage)

The "Gaye Holud" ("yellowing the body") is in preparation for the "Beeya".

For the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's family - except the groom himself - go in procession to the bride's home. They carry with them the bride's wedding outfit, wedding decoration including turmeric paste and henna, sweetmeats and gifts. They also take two large fishes decorated as a groom and bride. There are local variations on this tradition, such as the number of fishes, the party responsible for cooking the fish(es) and time the fish is taken to the groom's family.

The procession traditionally centers on the (younger) female relative and friends of bride, and they are traditionally all in matching clothes, mostly orange in colour.

Now-a-days another trend is pretty common - that is to arrange two different dress codes for female and male attendants from two sides. For example, in Bride's Gaye Holud female relatives of bride's side wears Block Shari and those from the groom's side wears Mirpuri Katan Shari. In the same event, male relatives from bride's side wears hand-crafted punjabi while those attending from the groom's side wears block fotua.

The bride is seated on a dais, and the henna is used to decorate the bride's hands and feet with elaborate abstract designs. The turmeric paste is applied by the bride's friends to her body. This is said to soften the skin, but also colours her with the distinctive yellow hue that gives its name to this ceremony.

The sweets are then fed to the bride by all involved, piece by piece. There is, of course, a feast for the guests. The groom's Gaye Holud comes next, and has the same form as the bridal ceremony.

Bibaho or Beeye (the marriage)

The actual wedding ceremony "Beeya" follows the Gaye Holud ceremonies. The wedding ceremony is arranged by the bride's family. On the day, the younger members of the bride's family barricade the entrance to the venue, and demands sort of admission charge from the groom in return for allowing him to enter. This is however done in fun, and is not an integral part of the wedding. There is a bargaining between groom and bride's family members on the amount of money of the admission. There is typically much good-natured pushing and shoving involved. Another custom is for the bride's younger siblings, friends and cousins to conceal the groom's shoes for money; to get them back the groom must usually pay off the children. Siblings, friends and cousins also plays many practical jokes on the groom.

For a Muslim wedding, the bride and groom are seated separately, and a Kazi (authorized person by the govt. to perform the wedding), accompanied by the parents and a "Wakil" (witness) from each side formally asks the bride for her consent to the union, and then the groom for his.

For a Hindu wedding, a priest makes couple chant mantras from the holy texts that formalises the following:
*"Kanyadaan (giving away of the bride by the father of the bride or a father figure, could be an uncle).
*"Saat Phera (The couple walks round the ceremonial fire seven times. See Saptapadi.)""The actual formalizing of the wedding and the signing of paperworks is now done before the ceremony for convenience. Usually it is carried out on the morning of the wedding and the feast is at night.

At this time, for muslim weddings, the amount of the dowry or Mahr is verified, and if all is well, the formal papers are signed, and the couple are seated side by side on a dais. The brides oorna (headcovering) is draped over both, and a mirror placed in front. The groom is then supposed to say something romantic on what is notionally the first time he has laid eyes on his bride.

Everybody celebrates the union with a feast.

While seated on the dais, the bride's entourage will make attempts to steal the groom's shoes, which they will return for a ransom. Once the return of the shoes is negotiated.

In Bengali Hindu marriages on the day of the marriage (after wedding ceremony is over), close friends and relatives remain awake for the entire night. This is called the "Basor Raat". Generally the day on which wedding is held Basor Raat starts after midnight if the wedding ceremony is over by evening. Most Hindu Bengali marriages happen in the evening.

The next day, preferably before noon, the couple make their way from the venue to the groom's home, where a bridal room has been prepared.

Bou Bhaat (reception after the marriage)

The reception, also known as "Bou Bhaat" (reception) or "Walima" among the Muslims, is a party given by the groom's family in return for the wedding party. It is generally a much more relaxed affair, with only the second-best wedding outfit being worn.

It is a lot like the wedding, the bride and groom however receive and see off guests and dine together. After the party, the bride and groom go to the bride's family house for two nights. On the second day, the groom's family are invited to the bride's house for a meal, and they leave with the bride and groom. This meal is called "Firani".

Phul Shajya (bed of flowers)

In Muslim marriages, this takes place on the night of the wedding.

In Hindu marriages, this takes place on the night of the reception.

Phul Shajya translates into "Bed of flowers", literally "Decorate with Flowers". For this ceremony the bride wears a lot of floral ornaments and their marriage bed is decorated with flowers by the groom's family. This is the night of consummation.

ee also

* Marriage
* Gaye Holud
* Culture of Bangladesh
* Culture of West Bengal

* [ Bangladesh matrimonial]

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