Khush guide to a Bengali wedding

Khush guide to a Bengali wedding

A visual treat marked with endless celebrations for the union of two families

ARTICLE BY : Hanisha Sethi


Bengali Weddings can easily last for weeks on end, starting with the Paka Kotha (final word) ceremony, during which the date of the wedding is fixed by both families, and culminating in the Bou Bhat (post-wedding party) a few days after the official Wedding Day. Celebrations filled with love, and happiness, the couple receives a warming and lavish send-off.

1. Kabin Nama
The family of the prospective bride and groom meet at either side’s house to discuss the idea of marriage between their children. If both families are happy and wish to go ahead with the Big Day, a Kabin Nama (marriage contract) is drawn up, detailing all that was discussed.

2. Bridal Nikkah

The bride’s family kick-start the celebrations with a chini paan (engagement party) for their daughter. Some members of the groom’s family will go along bearing gifts for the bride and everyone decides on a suitable wedding date. Then comes the Nikkah, which the bride and groom to-be complete separately. The bride will have hers at home, attended by a maulvi (priest) and the groom’s side will send gold, clothing and other expensive gifts. Grooms can have their Nikkah before the wedding, but it will be held in the mosque, or on the same day of the wedding.

3. Mehndi Party

The Mehndi party is an all-out extravagant affair. It’s the bride who is the belle of this particular ball. She will have henna applied onto her hands and be fed sweets and snacks by her family and friends.  For the Gaye Holud (a grand ceremony usually held outdoors) the bride will have haldi applied as part of the beautification process. For each event, the groom traditionally provides the bridal trousseau, along with five gorgeous saris for post wedding gatherings.

4. Holding the Gate

When the groom arrives at the venue, the bride’s side will block his entry and demand a fee for him to get through. It’s usually the younger guests who take part in Holding the Gate; jostling the groom, throwing confetti and playfully refusing entry. There’s plenty of bartering between the two groups, normally for some cash-in-hand!

5. Groom’s Nikkah

If the Groom decides to have his Nikkah on his Wedding Day, the bride waits in another room. Once the Groom has made his entrance, a maulvi will be waiting to carry out his Nikkah. After he accepts the terms of marriage, he asks the congregation to bless the union before the bride enters to join her new husband on stage.

6. Getting Together

When the bride joins her husband, they playfully look at each other through a mirror before drinking sherbet. They feed each other sweet, rose flavoured milk and toast to officially being husband and wife.

7. Wedding Feast

Unusually, there are two top tables in a Bengali wedding; one each for the bride and groom. The groom will sit apart from his new wife and eat from the same thaal as his male relatives, while the bride will do the same with her female family members. Some of the bride’s younger relatives, may go over and playfully feed the newest member of their family to welcome him.

8. Giving away the Bride
The newlyweds return to the stage after the feast so that the bride’s parents can officially give away their daughter. As with other cultures, this moment is highly emotional as it marks the end of the bride’s ‘childhood’ and the beginning of her new chapter.

9. Bidai
At the bride’s new home, her in-laws will feed the newlyweds traditional mishti (sweets) and give her money as a small token. The bride will usually be accompanied by her younger sister as a chaperone. The Bou Bhaat, also known as the Walima, traditionally takes place a few days afterwards, but these days, families prefer celebrating this all in one go.

Photography: Tanvir Ali Photography, Zohaib Ali

As seen in Khush Wedding 25. Buy this issue 


Tags : Bengali Wedding  Wedding Guide  Nikkah 
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