Bengali Hindu wedding is immensely colorful and vibrant. It is one of the important Sanskaras celebrated through some customs and rituals. These are Patipatra, Pankhil, Ashirvad, Aiburo Bhaat, Nitbar & Nitkane, Shankha Kangkan, Ganga Nimantran, Dadhi Mangal, Nandi Mukh, Gaye Halud, Tatta, Bar Baran, Patta Bastra, Shubhadrishti, Mala Badal, Kanya Sampradan, Yajna, Satpak, Anjali or Kushandika, Sindoor Daan, Basi Biye, Basar Jagaran, Biday, Badhu Baran, Kalratri, Bhaat Kapar, Bou Bhaat, Phulshajya, Ashtamangala etc. These 29 customs and rituals are described below.

1.Patipatra-Preliminary Discussion

Patipatra is the first ritual of Bengali Hindu marriage. It is also known as Lagnapatra or Mangalacharan. Patipatra ritual is basically a preliminary discussion. In this part of wedding ceremony, in the presence of Ghatak (matchmaker), the initial discussion of marriage between the two families of bride and groom ends. It is through this ritual that other rituals of marriage begin.

2.Pankhil-Finalization of the Wedding Date

Pankhil is the second ritual of Bengali Hindu marriage.This ritual is celebrated right after the Patipatra. Pankhil made of betel leaves is served and the final conversation of the wedding is done on this occasion. The Pankhil ceremony is held at the home of both the bride and groom. The girls sing wedding songs on this occasion.

3.Ashirvad-The Blessing Ritual

Ashirvad (the blessing ritual) is usually completed when the wedding conversation is over and the wedding date is fixed. This ritual is performed in the presence of relatives separately at the home of the bride and groom. Due to lack of time, this event is also seen to be organized on the wedding day.

4.Aiburo Bhat-The Last Meal as Unmarried

On the day before the wedding, Aiburo Bhat (a rice meal ritual) is arranged at the house of both the bride and groom. For the last time unmarried, the bride and groom are fed rice on this occasion. Since rice is the main food of Bengalis, this is the name of the event(Aiburo Bhat).

5.Nitbar & Nitkane–Companions to the Bride and Groom

This is a unique custom associated with the Bengali Hindu wedding. ‘Bar‘ means groom and ‘kane‘ means bride. The nitbar is a boy child who accompanies the groom from the aiburo-bhat till the wedding. The same is done for the bride by a little girl who belongs to the bride’s family. She is called the nitkane. There is no known religious significance behind this custom.

6.Shankha Kangkan-Sign of Marriage

Shankha Kangkan

Shankha Kangkan is the ritual when the conch shell bangles are placed on the bride’s hand. Shankha Kangkan ritual is usually performed on the day before the wedding or on the morning of the wedding day.

7.Ganga Nimantran–Invocation to the River Ganga

Another unique ritual in a Bengali Hindu wedding is that of invocation to the River Ganga. Some female members of the family march towards the river while blowing conch shells. They carry items like a betel leaf, betel nut, haldi or turmeric and they also light an earthen lamp. Those who live far away from the Ganga can do the same at a nearby river, pond or lake.

8.Dadhi Mangal-The Day-break Meal

Dadhi Mangal is the ritual of the wedding day. On this day, before sunrise, the bride and groom are formally fed Chira( flattened rice) and Dadhi(curd) in their respective homes.

9.Nandi Mukh–Homage to the Ancestors

This ritual involves paying homage to the forefathers of the family of the bride as well as the groom. The bride and the groom sit with the eldest male member of their respective families to perform the ritual. It is a Vedic ritual that requires the involvement of a priest. The bride or groom wears a new dress for this ritual.

10.Gaye Halud-Smearing of the Purifying Turmeric Paste

Gaye Halud (ceremony of smearing the bodies of the bride or the bridegroom with turmeric paste) is another ritual of Hindu marriage. The event takes place prior to the religious and legal Bengali wedding ceremonies. Gaye Halud is usually a joint event for the bride and groom’s families. Gaye Halud ceremony starts at the groom’s house, where turmeric paste mixed with milk, water and mustard oil is applied on the groom’s body by his mother and then other female relatives and friends. After the application, he is then bathed with water being poured on him. The remaining paste, along with the mustard oil, is then sent to the bride’s house along with the tatta, which also includes the outfit that the bride is going to wear during her Gaye Halud ceremony. The ceremony is then performed at the bride’s house in a similar fashion. The girls also perform wedding songs on this occasion.The myth behind Gaye Halud holds the story of its origin. It originates from the story of Lord Shiva and Sati, his bride.

11.Tatta–The Gifts

Tatta or gifts are exchanged in Bengali Hindu wedding. These gifts include different kinds of ethnic clothes, cosmetics, toliletries and accessories for the bride and groom, clothes for the family members, clothes and toiletries for the nitbar and nitkanee, sweets, a fish etc. These are usually sent in decorated trays. The groom’s family sends these gifts to the bride’s family along with the haldi (turmeric). So this is called the ‘gaye holud er tatta’. The bride’s family sends these gifts on the day of the boubhat.

12.Bar Baran-Grand Welcoming of the Groom

The main wedding ceremony begins with this ritual (Bar Baran). When the bridegroom comes to the bride’s house to get married, the bride’s mother welcomes her new son-in-law by arranging lamps, rice, durba etc. on a winnowing fan (Baran Kula). Then the women blows conch shell and sounds uludhwani. The groom is then fed milk and sweets and taken inside the house to a certain place.

13.Patta Bastra–The Sacred Attire

The main Bengali Hindu wedding rituals take place under the chhadnatala (wedding mandap), which is a decorated square area or stage . Before the rituals start the groom needs to change into particuar attire called the patta bastra which includes a dhoti and a long piece of cloth which the groom is supposed to wrap around the upper part of the body. An elderly member of the family of the bride hands it over to the groom.

14.Shubhadrishti-The First Auspicious Glance

This ritual of Shubhadrishti is very short. The bride and groom look at each other during Shubhadrishti ritual.

15.Mala Badal-Exchange of Garlands

Mala Badal

In this ritual (Mala Badal), the bride and groom exchange garlands or mala at the wedding mandap. This means that both the bride and groom accept each other as their life partner.

16.Kanya Sampradan-Giving away the Daughter

Kanya Sampradan is an important ritual of Bengali Hindu marriage. In this part, in the presence of a priest, the bride’s father or someone from the patriarchy gives the bride to the groom for life. At this time, the groom also takes the responsibility of his wife for the rest of his life according to the rules. Kanya Sampradan is an important ritual in Hindu wedding.

17.Yajna-The Sacred Fire

The bride and the groom sit next to each other while the priest helps them perform the yajna in front of the sacred fire. The yajna ritual of a Bengali Hindu wedding is performed to make the God of Fire – Agni – a witness to the sacred union.

18.Satpak-Seven Important Steps

After the Baran of the groom, he is brought to the wedding Mandap on the wedding pedestal. According to custom, the bride then covers her face with two betel leaves. Then the bride is surrounded seven times by the bridegroom. This ritual (Satpak) is also called Saptapadi.

19.Anjali or Kushandika-The Offering

Anjali

In this ritual (Anjali or Kushandika), the bride and groom offer Khai (fried grain) together in the fire. This ritual is believed to be performed following the Vedic rites.

20.Sindoor Daan-Smearing the Vermilion

Sindoor Daan

Sindoor Daan is one of the most important rituals of Hindu marriage. In this part, the groom puts vermilion on the bride’s forehead. According to the rules, vermilion is put with a Kunke, mirror or coin. After this ritual of vermilion, the bride’s face is covered with a cloth. Then the groom removes the cloth and sees the bride’s face for the first time.

21.Basi Biye-The Second Round of Marriage

If the Sindoor Daan is left in the wedding ceremony, it is completed in the Basi Biye ritual. So, Basi Biye is not always seen to be arranged. Basi Biye ritual is rarely seen nowadays.

22.Basar Jagaran-The Interactive Session

It is customary for the bride and groom and their friends to stay up all night gossiping after the wedding. This part is called Basar Jagaran.

23.Biday-The Farewell

It is performed before the bride and the groom goes home after all the wedding ceremonies are over at the bride’s house. It is organized as a symbolic ritual to repay the father’s debt in exchange for a handful of rice. At the time of the bride’s departure, the bride’s mother holds the edge of her sari she wears behind her daughter and the bride throws a handful of rice over her head three times. Then that rice falls on the sari. It is called kanakanjali. This ritual is arranged in almost all the wedding ceremonies.

24.Badhu Baran-Welcoming the Bride

The newlyweds are welcomed as soon as they arrive at the groom’s house. The new bride is first greeted by arranging lamps, paddy, durba etc. on a Baran Kula. The women blows conch shell and sounds uludhwani. Then the wife, soaking her feet in milk, slowly enters her husband’s house. At this time the new wife has to perform some more rituals. For example, fishing with hands, watching milk splash on the stove, holding a pitcher in the armpit, looking for a ring in the water of a bowl etc. Badhu Baran is a very impornt ritual in the Bengali Hindu wedding ceremony.

25.Kalratri-The Night of Separation

The night after the wedding is known as Kalratri. According to the rules, the bride and groom are not allowed to stay together on this night.

26.Bhaat Kapar-Acceptance of Responsibility

The next day, Bhaat Kapar ritual is completed. The husband symbolically hands over a plate of rice and clothes to his new wife and takes the responsibility of supporting his wife for the rest of his life.

27.Boubhaat-Reception

Boubhaat ritual is celebrated through a social ceremony. Relatives of the bride and groom attend the ceremony. At the beginning of the ceremony, the bride serves food to everyone with her own hands.

28.Phulshajya-The Night of Union

Phulshajya means the bed of flowers. The newlyweds’ house and bed are decorated with flowers. From this night on, their married life begins to be together.

29.Ashtamangala–Staying for Eight Days

According to local custom, the groom stays at the in-laws’ house for eight days. There he receives hospitality at the home of the bride’s close relatives. Later, the groom goes home with his bride. This practice is known as Ashta Mangala.

By Krishna Das

[Last Updated: 19 December, 2021]

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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