Benagli weddings are renowned for their numerous rituals and ceremonies. The Kayastha caste has a firm belief in its culture and practices. Hence, these ceremonies hold great significance in initiating the couple to the threshold of a prosperous and happy wedded life. The most interesting part of a Kayastha Bengali wedding is the ululation by women and conch shell bowing. Shehnaai recital is also an integral part of these nuptials and is to bid respect to the guests.
The Bhaat Niyuatena Ritual
The rituals in this ceremony can be divided in three sections – pre-wedding, the wedding, and post wedding. The beginning of preparations is marked by the Bhaat Niyuatena ritual. As a part of this ritual, the mother of the bridegroom is invited by her parents/brother for lunch. She takes along her Bhaat Bateese for this ceremony. Respect for Bhaatis holds utmost importance in all rituals pertaining to Bengali matrimony.
After the Bhaat Niyuatena ritual, the mother of the bridegroom extends invitations to her friends and relatives to grace the wedding with their presence.
The Haldi ceremony is another auspicious ritual. A paste prepared with turmeric, milk, and mustard oil is applied onto the face, arms and feet of bride as well as the groom. The implication of this ritual is to purify body, mind and soul of the bride and groom to start a happy and healthy married life.
Mehndi follows Bhaat Niyuatena. It is performed a day before the main ceremony. This beautiful custom is performed at bride and groom’s homes. It entails applying henna (Mehndi) on palms of the bride and groom. This ritual involves magnificent celebrations with music, dance and lot of fun. Further, the bride’s parents send food for about 50 people or even more to the groom’s house. This is considered an important custom in Kayastha Bengali nuptials.
After the Mehndi ceremony, the bride’s parents send the bride’s brother, accompanied by the Panditji, with Tilak for the groom. After the Tilak putting ceremony finishes, the next traditional ceremony in Kayastha Bengali matrimony is offering the groom to eat 7 betel beeras in single go. This ritual is also done by the bride’s brother.
On the main day, the groom’s family approaches the wedding venue along with close relatives, friends and other guests. The wedding procession (Baraat) is highlighted by music, dance, and fun to signify the joy and delight of family members. They are welcomed by the bride’s family at the venue entrance. The groom, dressed in Achkan & Churidar, is greeted by putting a red tilak.
After the groom enters the wedding hall (mandap), the bride arrives. She is accompanied by sisters, bhabhis and friends. The bride and groom exchange garlands (Jaimala ceremony). After Jaimala, the Kanyadan ceremony takes place. This is the most emotional moment in the entire celebration of Bengali marriage as a father delegates the responsibility of his daughter to the groom. The Kanyadan is followed by saat pheras and Bidaai to conclude the Kayastha Bengali wedding. The bride then moves to the groom’s house where post-wedding ceremonies like muh-dikhai, bahu-bhaat, and bodhu-boron are performed.