• A long holiday for a wedding and travel
• Bouts of influenza and viral fever
• A sudden rise in mercury levels
• The laptop battling a midlife crisis
• Chronic neck-to-fingertips pain
• Time to deal with messy matters of the mind
These are just a few things that have kept me from being as regular a blogger as I have wanted to be. The drama queen in me tends to look at these reasons as a band of villains that conspire to bring me down. The practical me is struggling to accept the fact that some things are just not in my control; at times, it’s best to go with the flow.
Amid these regular life struggles came the realisation that it’s been a whole month to the big fat Bengali wedding I attended in February. My cousin baby brother has been married for a month already! That wholesome and chunky little white infant is a married man! Wow!
Now I know what the relatives mean when they react with the astonished “you’ve grown up so much!” when they meet me. That’s how I felt during as the kid got hitched!
The wedding will continue to be a point of discussion in the family for a while now. After all, the point of a big wedding that involves family, friends and their friends, is to create memories that last you a lifetime. My parents who’ve been married for over 40 years continue to share a laugh about incidents from their wedding; or incidents that took place at family weddings over the years.
• Like the
• Or that time when I walked into a glass door at a cousin’s wedding and sported a swollen nose as an accessory.
• Or the time when a group of European friends was force-fed a huge plate of
“Clueless friends” are a fixture at every family wedding I’ve attended. These friends are lost in the hullabaloo of the wedding household. Some of them are lucky enough to find a seat next to a benevolent elder who explains the proceedings to them; which just means they are 20
Had the Hulk-like non-Bengali friend of my cousin brother
1. Notes explaining the pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals
2. A bunch of antacids to help that overworked digestive system
3. A list of the most often used Bengali words & phrases
4. A healthy dose of patience
5. A stomach for unsolicited advice
6. A warning bell to help those sneaking into corners for variety entertainment
Now for those who’ve already survived a wedding like this, my heartiest congratulations to you. And those planning to get married and/or attending a Bengali wedding in the near future, I’ll help you with the first thing listed in the kit. So here’s what happens at a “Bengali Wedding”.
Note: A wedding in the average Bengali household is a non-flashy (mostly) but colourful affair filled with elaborate preparations. Called ‘biye’ in Bengali language, rituals followed depend on the subculture of the family – the Bangals and the Ghotis. The former being Bengali Hindus who have their roots in modern-day Bangladesh and the latter being those with roots in West Bengal. The rituals are further tweaked by elders of the family over a period of time to suit time, space and availability.
Aashirvad – Literally meaning ‘blessings’, this is the ‘formal acceptance’ ceremony wherein the bride and groom are blessed by their partner’s family members with gifts (of the material kind). This ceremony is not necessarily the first of the wedding rituals. Depending on circumstances, the aashirvad can be done a few months before the wedding or immediately before the wedding. In my elder sister’s case, the
Ai Budo Bhatt – This is the last meal a to-be bride/groom eats as a bachelor/bachelorette and is an elaborate affair held a day before the wedding. The ai budo
The presence of unmarried friends and cousins is crucial here – as per traditions, only they can help the bachelor/bachelorette finish the mega meal. (photo below)
Note: At most of these ceremonies, blessings are given using dhaan (while rice in shells) and dubbo (tri-headed grass). Conch shells are blown to the accompaniment of ullu dhwani to signify the auspiciousness of the moments.
Dodhi Mongol – Marks the beginning of the wedding day that begins at dawn. The bride and groom eat a meal of
Jol Saja – After the
Birddhi Puja, Gaay Holud, Tatto – Things start rolling hereafter with rituals being conducted one after the other. It begins with the
This paste is smeared on the groom – before his family and friends turn it into a ‘smearing game’. There has been evidence that the groom is the least yellow person in the vicinity after the
(continued in Decoding the Bengali Wedding Drama #2)
Note: Photographs belong to Gautam Chakravarty-Megha Hariramani /