Although many people across India choose their own life partners, it is still tradition to get the formal consent of parents from both parties. It is only after consent is given that the couple can be formally engaged to each other. There are many customs and rituals that take place before and after a Bengali wedding. Weddings in this part of the country are celebrated with great pomp and show and they are a treat to attend.
What are the pre-wedding rituals of a Bengali matrimony?
Like in other Hindu cultures, there are many ceremonies and rituals that need to be completed before a Bengali wedding can take place. They involve the families of both the bride and groom-to-be. One of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies is the paka-dekha or patri-patro. It takes place prior to the wedding. During this ceremony, the following rituals take place:
- Family members from both parties meet to agree on the final date as well as time of day for the marriage to take place.
- A “patra”, or paper document, is signed by family members and guardians with a vermillion-wrapped coin.
- The groom’s family visits the future daughter-in-law’s house to give her their blessings. They carry chandan (sandalwood), durba (grass), dhaan (paddy), saree, gold ornaments, cosmetics, sweets, dry fruits and curd.
- After this, the future bride’s family visits the groom’s house and reciprocates the gesture. This is to ensure that the groom and his family will take good care of the bride once they are married.
- In some instances, the family members ask a priest to officiate the paka-dekha or patri-patro.
Once the patra has been signed and documented for government or legal purpose, the alliance becomes binding and the couple is considered to be betrothed to each other. Once the formalities are completed, the members of both families enjoy sweet treats that are provided by the groom’s party.
After the paka-dekho ceremony is done, both the bride and groom’s parties make a public announcement about the engagement in their respective localities. Once the announcement is made, it is followed by the blowing of conch shells and the ululations of elder married women of the both the future bride and groom’s families.
Other Bengali Wedding Rituals
There are other rituals that take place before the actual day of a Bengali wedding. They are as follows:
- Aiburo bhaat: This is the last lunch that the bride eats in her father’s house. After this, she is unable to eat anything from her father’s home until the day of the wedding. In some cases, the groom too has to go through this ritual.
- Holud kota: This is a ceremony that involves applying a paste made of turmeric on the bride by 5 or 7 married women of the groom’s family, after it has been applied on him. This paste is believed to give her glowing skin. They also bring the bride’s wedding dress, decorations and sweets.
The Bengali culture is filled with rich heritage and it certainly shows in the rituals performed before and after weddings.