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A Bengali wedding is a midnight celebration and reminiscent of all that is poetic and sentimental. The bride dressed in a red sari wears ornaments of gold. The groom wears a silk doti with kurta. The bride is carried on the shoulders by her uncles. The meal after marriage served to the bride is named as bahubhat. After the marriage a wedding feast is served to the friends and relatives.

Bengalis have a rich culture to boast of and a whole set of interesting rituals for their marriages. Each Bengali wedding is made special in its own terms, by the colorful traditions and customs that are followed before, during and after the ceremony. Whether it is a simple or a lavish Bengali wedding, you would witness all the rituals strictly followed by the family of the couple. It is very interesting just to witness a Bengali wedding, because the people engaged in the preparations are fully animated, right from the pre-wedding to the post-wedding ceremonies, while the bride and the groom are pampered and made feel very special about themselves and the ceremony.

A Bengali wedding typically consists of rituals that are divided into three phases- the pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding ceremony. The pre-wedding starts a couple of days before the wedding, wherein puja is conducted by the purohit, who conducts the marriage as well. The families of the bride and the groom honor each other through the exchange of gifts, which usually contains an assortment of sweets, fish, sari etc. After the haldi ritual and snan, the bride and the groom are brought to the mandap, where they tie the wedding knot. This is followed by a series of post-wedding rituals, which are as important as the wedding itself. Overall, a Bengali wedding is truly a delight to the eyes.

Bengali Pre-Wedding Rituals
Bengali pre-wedding rituals are very delightful to look at. The ceremonies conducted before the marriage symbolize that they eagerly look forward to the important day in the life of the couple, who are soon going to tie the nuptial knot. Bengalis have a very charming way of pampering the bride and the groom before the wedding, and for the purpose, they have set aside certain rituals that largely include pujas and exchange of gifts.

Leaving the House - Rituals:

The Groom - well attired with Dhoti and Kurta, alongwith topor (paper and shola conical hat) leavesthe house. Before leaving the groom takes permission from his mother to go and fetch her future assistant. Mother gives the permission and feed the groom with a sweet and a glass of milk. The groom, along-with a relative / friend leave the house to go to the bride's place. The decorated car is sent by the bride's house and a relative of the bride comes to take the groom. The relatives and friends of the groom usually leave after this. As per the custom, the groom's mother stays back.

The groom has to carry a darpan (mirror) during this time.

Along-with the groom, a small boy also goes to the bride's place, with the similar dress. He is known as neet-bar.

Welcoming 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 (Baran dala is a silver plate arranged with rice, turmeric, etc. to welcome the bride and groom ) 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. At first the Groom is taken in the mandap. The puja is performed along-with the person who will perform the Sampradaan. After the puja, the groom is given a fresh set of Dhooti and Kurta from the bride's side. The groom has to change his dhoti-kurta and wear the new set and the ring.

After this the bride is brought to the Mandap. The bride is usually carried in a piri and four of her friends carry her in the Mandap. She keeps her eyes hidden with a beetle leaf. She is rotated seven times around the groom. Once this is over, the bride and groom are placed face to face and the the bride removes her beetle leaf. The bride and groom looks at each other for the first time (!). This is known as Shubha-Drishti.

After Shubha drishti, they exchange their garlands for three times. After this the bride and groom both are seated opposite to each other. Their hands are tied together and kept ovet a ghot. The oorna of the bride and the uttariya of the groom are tied together. 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. Alongwith the priest the groom also chants the mantra. (A full text of the matra will be added soon). After this the bride and groom changes the position and they are seated sideby side. The yagna is carried out, i.e. the marriage is done with fire as the witness.

After the marriage ceremony is over, there are some interesting games, which is played alongwith the ladies of the bride's place. There are various local variance of the games like hiding the ring, playing with a vessel full of rice, etc. After all the rituals are over, the bride and groom beak their fast and eat the dinner. By then all the relatives and firends who were invitees have already taken their dinner.

A Bengali marriage is always scheduled during the dusk (Godhuli lagna), Evening (Sandhya Lagna) or night. All the rituals take about three hours.

Bengali Post-Wedding Rituals
Proud of their cultural heritage, the Bengalis in India organize their wedding in a unique way and mark the culmination of the ceremony in their own impressive style. The rituals conducted post-wedding is divided into three broad phases, wherein the bride departs her maternal home and joins her groom, to settle down in the latter's home and start a new life there.

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