It’s an experience, a different involvement to witness a Bengali wedding. For those few, who have actually been fortunate enough to be spectators of such glamour, that too from the start till the very end, you have my salute. The heart of these weddings signifies the true meaning of being a Bengali. Yes, like all other Hindu weddings, even Bengali weddings consist of a variety of customs but there some small things which one doesn’t forget if they have been to a Bengali wedding.
So for those of you who are yet to experience this tradition, let me chalk it out in the following points :
1. Aiburo Bhaat
You talk Bengali and don’t mention food? Impossible! The ball starts rolling with this ritual. It’s just like the modern bridal shower or bachelor party but with lots and lots of food. Fish, mutton, daal, vegetables, doi, and mishti form the main part of this delicious tradition.
We are done with the food, now comes the gift. And what better gift than to incorporate two of Bengal’s most sought after cravings: fish and sweet. Yes, a complexly adorn fish made of khoya(a sweet) is part of tattwa.
Ululation is kind of a howl. Now don’t get scared. It is a magnanimous experience. The sound is supposed to signify victory of kings and thereby bringing in good vibes. Also, it’s power increases many folds if sung by a large number of people at one time. The good thing about it – your mom, the peaceful aunties, in fact, every other woman present at the scene – tend to get super ambitious about it.
4. Alta and chondon shojja
Alta is of paramount importance in the Bengali tradition. And combine it with chondon shojja or the sandalwood paste – no modern cosmetics makeup will withstand its natural beauty. And these two rituals are celebrated and remembered with much happiness.
5. Bashi Biye and Bou Bhaat
This is the unique aspect of a Bengali wedding. They don’t end soon. The fun continues for long periods. And to make sure of it, we have part 2 and part 3 in Bengali weddings. The Bashi Biye, is another kind of wedding, though stale, which is given away the next day of the wedding while the Bou Bhaat is generally a get together thrown by the in-laws for the bride.
6. The old Harmonium
Time and again, in a Bengali wedding, someone takes out a Harmonium – out of nowhere(maybe some ancient attic). And what makes matters worse if they start singing too, honestly, in a not-so melodious tone. The torture continues for the bride and groom, too, when they are asked to sing along. But whatever be the outside notions, Harmoniums are and will be an indispensable part of the Bengali culture.
7. Rojonigondha Ful
The concept of Bengali’s and tube roses go hand in hand. Whether it be some anniversary or the grand weddings itself, one will always experience the ‘rajanigandha’ – a bunch of flowers with the best of fragrance.
8. Ustad Bismillah Sanai
One of the most prominent things, which you cannot forget, after witnessing a Bengali wedding is the tune of Sanai. It practically sets the mood. It is an ingrained necessity which truly captures all the emotions of happiness and sorrow, of meetings and partings, of celebrating and coming together.
9. Paan Patta
It is the guardian of their beautiful eyes, the guilty pleasure when had as ‘banarasi paan’ or ‘mithe paan’, the quintessential ingredient of all Bengali rituals, cultures and weddings – the paan patta has to be a part of the extensive gathering.