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Bengali Wedding Ceremony
In Bengal, marriages takes place only during the evening time in the period of December to July. A day or two before the actual wedding the engagement takes place at either the bride or the groom's place in the presence of the priest. The place of engagement is decorated with Rangoli like patterns with paste of rice in water. At the entrance of the house a small banana tree is placed under which a small copper pitcher - "Mangal Ghot" is placed. A mango stem with five leaves - "Amra Pallab" - is placed in the water in the "Ghot" on the side of which a star sign symbol - "Sri" - is drawn with "Sindoor" mixed in oil. The entrance door is decorated with mango leaves string, which has to be kept for one year period after the wedding.
The Priest comes with an idol of God Vishnu and the couple takes an oath in the name of God Vishnu. "Vridhi" is performed by the paternal uncle of both the families. The bride or groom and the respective uncles are put on a liquid diet. "Dodhi Mangal" ceremony is performed in both the houses on wedding day early in the morning at dawn before sunrise. The "Goddess Ganga" is invited for the wedding by the couple and a few married women. In order for the bride and groom to bathe they bring back a pitcher of water from the pond. After that the bride and groom are offered rice, fish, chiruya and curd. Then the gifts are brought by the servants to the groom's house who are welcomed by cheers and blowing conchshells and are given sweets and rewards in return. A "Kubi Patta" - Saint Kuber image - is installed in both the houses on the wedding day. The wedding dress for the bride is a Banarasi Sari and for the groom is Dhoti and Kurta.
Throughout the night "Shehnai" is played. A peculiarity of Bengali marriage is that the bride and the groom's mothers do not witness the marriage due to a prevalent belief that this casts an "evil eye" on the couple! The bride is given away by either a paternal or a maternal uncle. The groom and his troupe are welcomed by ringing bells and blowing conch shells. The bride's mother applies a "tika" of sandalwood - "chandan" - to the groom's forehead. She then applies the same to the ground and again up to the groom. The groom is offered soft drinks and sweets after the "tika" procedure is repeated thrice. As the groom enters into the house water is poured on the doorstep.
The couple then play games with "cowries" and paddy. Then they go for dinner and after that throughout the night they are kept awake by the jokes and songs of their relatives and friends. Tagore's poems are also recited after which in presence of the priest they worship the "Sun God". The couple keep on their wedding clothes during the "bidaai" also. As soon as the couple arrives at the groom's residence, before they step down, water is poured on the ground near the vehicle, by the women of the house after which an elder woman of the house brings a flat metal plate consisting a mixture of milk and lac dye. The bride imprints her footprints on this mixture of lac and milk in the plate which is held by the groom's elder brother's wife. Then the bride is taken into the house by the groom who gives her gifts of clothes and jewellery. Moreover amidst loud ringing of bells and blowing of conch shells he puts an iron bangle on to his bride's left arm. Until the "Bou-Bhat" the bride is not supposed to eat anything at her in-law's place. The next morning, the bride, clad in a new "sari", is served her first lunch on a brand new plate. A reception is hosted by the groom's father that same evening.
The colourful ceremony ends happily after the flower decoration in the couple's room at night. After a couple of days the thread on the bride's hand is cut which was tied by the priest during the wedding ceremony.
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