Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bengali Marriages aka Bangali Biye aka Bangla Biye

Disclaimer: All the ideas presented are entirely figments of my imagination. In no way I am writing this to demean the beliefs of any person, or downplay any religion or country. I apologize in advance if it has hurt the sentiments of any and warn people to read this only if they feel like doing so. I have also used a few excerpts and pictures that are available in the net to explain the various rituals.

The Bengalis are believed to be gifted with a very sweet sounding language wherein every other syllable is pronounced with a “Rosogolla” in mouth. I still don’t understand the difference. But anyhow others just love to learn a few words of our mother tongue and the first thing that they learn is “Ami tomake bhalobashi” – I love you. If only this feeling would have been present in everyone’s heart, we could have done away with all the violence in this world. But I have a strong feeling that people learn this to woo Bengali girls who are considered to be beautiful and cultured. Believe me they just don’t know the truth. Anyways it is up to them if they want to learn it after infusing some money in this depleting Indian economy. In some ways it is good. So no complaints.
Bengalis are a passionate and emotional race, proud of their cultural heritage. We are very joyful, for us every moment is an excuse for celebration. And so our marriages are not different. Our weddings are rich, warm and varied like our culture. Yet our rituals have a certain somberness and intellectual dignity. Bengali weddings have the right balance of noise, pomp, dignity and ostentation. Bengali marriages give away scores of simple rituals to cherish the once-in-lifetime wedding experience.
Being culture conscious people we enjoy our multihued marriages. The multi day celebration is rich in color, pomp and tradition making it a feast for the eyes. Each Bengali wedding is made special in its own terms, by the colorful traditions and customs that are followed before, during and after the ceremony. Whether it is a simple or a lavish Bengali wedding, you would witness all the rituals strictly followed by the family of the couple. It is very interesting just to witness a Bengali wedding, because the people engaged in the preparations are fully animated, right from the pre-wedding to the post-wedding ceremonies, while the bride and the groom are pampered and made feel very special about themselves and the ceremony. Some do find a strange simile between this and how a goat is fed before it is butchered, but again this is a perception.
Marriage is a very noble and expensive event. Generally there is a direct correlation between a man's earnings and marriage expenses, in general 2 years' salary is wasted on useless decorations and feeding people whom you hardly know or will ever meet in future (sans may be someone else's marriage). For us Marriage is not a word, it's a sentence--a life sentence. Happy marriage is the greatest wealth a man can possess, and one that a peasant can have as easily as a king. But nowadays Marriage has become a three-ring circus--engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. Marriage is like a pack of cards. In the beginning, you have two hearts and a diamond (the bigger the better). By the end, you wish you had a club and a spade.
Marriages, first feared.. then loved, and then, oops! regret. But when loved, I believe no better heaven exists than the beating of two hearts as one. Seriously possibilities for the success of a marriage are endless. But you have to be willing to search for them.
A salient feature of our wedding is the blowing of the conch and the Ooli. This is a sound made by the women with their tongues and by beating the palms on the mouth throughout the ceremonies. This symbolically ensures that everybody's attention is drawn to the main ceremony. During the wedding you can also hear Shehnai being played and at times the looping effect of it can be nerve wrecking. Thankfully the chirp of the beautiful ladies are enough to divert your attention from the shehnai and lift your spirits.
Bengali weddings have been glorified and romanticized by movies and tele-serials. In a typical marriage ceremony there are two kinds of people:

1. Who are married: They are like the salesman. They are hired by a company and given a target. Now sell the product however obnoxious it might be. I think Amway adopted the same approach. These people try to sell something they repent of buying in the first place. They are those sadistic people who think a person cannot enjoy eternal happiness and so every bachelor should get married. I agree there are exceptions. Anyways they comprise your previous generation relatives specially ladies, for whom this occasion is like moksha.
This is how a married person views a bachelor:

2. Who are not married: They are like your probable customers, the untapped market. They are awed by the razzmatazz that comes with the package. They seem to pay no heed to the fact that nothing is free in this world. The cost is directly proportional to the grandeur of the ceremony. This category of people is also fascinated by the idea of getting a license to do what we Bengalis never discuss at our home in front of elders. It is okay for us to crack scatogenic jokes but to talk about carnal instincts is a taboo.
This is how a bachelor views a married person:

In our households there always come those awkward moments when a family sits in front of the television and while watching a movie suddenly comes a scene where a girl and a boy are enjoying some form of carnal instinct. There is a sudden silence with only the fan making some noise and obviously that stupid idiot box. The things that go through the minds of each person may be summarised into:

a. Father – I should have checked it before watching it with everyone. If only my wife and I were watching this. Heck it has been years that my engine was oiled. All this goes through his mind while his body maintains a stiff position, with eyes fixated at the tv and avoiding any movement that might result in an eye to eye contact with any other member present in the room.

b. Mother – Oh my lord what is this! This generation is so much into these things. They are rotten at the heart. They are spoiling my innocent children. All this goes through her mind while her body maintains a stiff position, with eyes fixated at the tv and avoiding any movement that might result in an eye to eye contact with any other member present in the room.

c. Son – WTF!!! When I am alone they show all bhakti movies and now they are showing this. Man I need to watch this again. Sha what a waste, I cannot even flex my right hand muscle (or left hand muscle if the boy is a lefty). All this goes through his mind while his body maintains a stiff position, with eyes fixated at the tv and avoiding any movement that might result in an eye to eye contact with any other member present in the room.

d. Daughter – If only my love was here, this would have made some sense but with my father sitting around it is so embarrassing. He thinks I am this Virgin Mary, little innocent fairy who is oblivious of what is going around. All this goes through her mind while her body maintains a stiff position, with eyes fixated at the tv and avoiding any movement that might result in an eye to eye contact with any other member present in the room.

If the children are below 15 (which means they are kids), suddenly the parents feel very thirsty. Even though a bottle of water is there beside the sofa, they need a fresh jug of water from the kitchen and if the child hurries with that then he might have to run to the kitchen again to get the glasses. The process would be repeated until the scene is over. If you are a clever child, you would rather take your time before you return to the room. If the scene is over, no one would even ask about water even if you come empty handed.
Sometimes your mother might know (may be from her seventh sense) that you are holding up that extra drop of water in your kidney which you need to dispose at that very instant or your kidneys might burst. So off she sends you to the loo.
This makes the Bengali boys and girls very naïve. We sometimes ask about mama’s napkins in a restaurant to wipe off our dirty hands, in front of everyone when a get together is going on. After all that is what a napkin is for, isn't it! We also believe that girls pee is blue whereas ours is yellow in colour. My roommate was highly surprised when I had to break the truth to him.
By the way if you are above 15 and watching the television with your parents, you are still a kid the only difference being there is a slimmest chance that you might  have the remote. No matter who has the remote there is an invisible bond signed by the family members that on such crisis situation you are supposed to change the channel and in no way you can break this rule.

Anyways we were talking about Bengali weddings, the first step being the arrangement of the wedding. With the generations being more and more independent with their choices and lifestyle, we currently have two forms of arrangement:

1. Love Marriages: Some say Inertia accounts for two-thirds of marriages. But love accounts for the other third. Technically marriage is an institution and love is supposed to be blind. So Love Marriage is an institution for blinds. I personally was never fascinated by any institution and that too for blinds! This answers why we generally see odd pairs going out, a beautiful girl with short fat and not so handsome guy or vice versa. This gives blokes like me a hope. Personally I believe love is blind, marriage is the eye-opener.
Anyways this kind of marriages is a convenient arrangement wherein the boy and girl get together may be in school, college and if luck is too good in office. Office loves are more of extra marital in nature because a beautiful single girl is kind of a myth. Love marriages resemble kind of procedural programming language. We have some set functions like flirting, going to movies together, making long conversations on phone and then try to fit all functions to the candidate we like.
With boy:girl ratio being approximately 1000:800, the chances are high that a good looking girl (which is a small sub set of the entire girl ratio) will be having more than one suitor. Now they have a choice as the supply is less than the demand.
As we all know, Supply and Demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers (at current price) will equal the quantity supplied by producers (at current price), resulting in an economic equilibrium of price and quantity. No wonder the guys have to shell out so much money in the initial phase of the relationship to increase entry barriers and avoid potential threat from new entrants.
For example if we just take the example of dining out. If a bunch of guys go out for dinner, it is very simple, even a road side dhaba is heavenly. Even before the waiter could put down the menu, we are ready with the order, “Roti, Dal Tadka, Chicken Butter Masala and obviously onions (the ones that are free of course)”. But when you have to go out with a girl, it’s different. You have to go to a good restaurant which serves Chinese and/or Continental at least because Indian is what you have at home. Then you and your viable prospect see the menu cards, the difference being you see the right side of the page and she sees the left side. Though you have flunked the maths exams time and again, at those instants your brain works faster than calculators, making all sorts of permutations and combinations of the dishes that could be ordered with the limited financial resource that you have in your back pocket. Then out of nowhere she orders Pasta, what the hell is that as you never had it before. The waiter smiles and asks you, “What sauce would you prefer sir?”
You somehow manage to draw a smile on your face and say, “No, no tomato or chilli sauce for me. It ruins the taste of the food.” You at the back of your mind also take into account that girls of this age are diet conscious and won’t like unhealthy foods. So you also add, “No soya sauce as well, darling doctors say it’s not good for health.” You are satisfied with your knowledge and actually feel a sense of triumph. But it is momentary, as the surprised look on the waiter’s face and on your girl friend’s face as well, is enough to suggest that you have seriously screwed up something. So you go to your plan B. after all we are men, we cannot be defeated in front of our girl friends and that too by a waiter. You just burst out in laughter and say, “Just joking yaar. I’ll have what you will have dear.” This is called passing the buck and your day is saved.
When the waiter comes and asks, “Water plain or bottled, Sir?” it is always regular in a guys dinner. If by mistake someone asks for Bisleri the general retort will be, “Abe nawabzyada aa gaya bhai, iske lie bisleri aur mere lie bhi ek bisleri black dog mein. Bill iske khate mein”. But with girls you have to order bottled mineral water. For Christ’s sake, you are in a reputed restaurant, they have their cleanliness audits and so their plain water is bound to be pure or else they will lose their license.
Then comes desserts. One of the course in the meal which the guys have if it is someone else’s treat. Girls will order the special delicacy anyways. “Isn’t it delicious dear” and she will eat a tiny bit of the food with a spoon. That’s it because it’s too much calories. Guys just have to finish it. The only salvo on being with a girl for dinner is that you can order less for yourself and actually fill your stomach by finishing her leftovers, actually it comprise the entire dish mostly.
Then the payment of bills. A bunch of guys will generally do dutch. If someone says, "Bhai mera bhi de de (someone please pay for me)." Others will reply, "Mere baap ki kaunsi factoryan hai!" But with girls it is always a boy who needs to pay the dues.
At the end of it all, you need to tip the waiter. They charge you service tax and still you need to pay the tip when you are with a girl. With guys if someone puts a 10 rupees note, others are taken aback, “What the  crap that’s 2 cigarettes you nitwit!” but with girls you have to tip. It’s basic courtesy and believe me we don’t like to tip, we feel the pain. More so because it is borrowed money that we are wasting on tips, just doesn’t fit the bill.
Love marriage is a throwaway type of prototype as client requirements rises with time thus it is a dynamic system and difficult to maintain. Client expectations generally include exciting feature as spouse cooking food, washing clothes etc. the only silver lining is that acceptance test is possible and you can try the product before you actually buy it.
After all these initial investments of precious resources like time and money suppose you get the project, then what? You get married dreaming of a happily ever after. Sometimes you get it but most of the times both husband and wives are disappointed. The basic reason being, guys marry thinking that the girls won’t change (primarily physically) but they change. They tend to become oversized assets at all the wrong places. It's just like inflation - before marriage a girl measures 36-24-36, but after marriage she inevitable becomes 42-42-42; there's more of her, but she is not worth as much. On the other hand, the girls marry thinking that guys would change (both behaviourally and mentally) but they don’t. Whatever comes we will always drool when we see a beautiful lass passing by, we will always howl when our favourite team scores a goal, we will always drink as we are always a few drinks behind so on and so forth.

2. Arranged Marriages: The whole idea of an arranged marriage confuses me. I find it weird especially the whole process of trying to fix a marriage between two ‘total strangers’, against the forces of nature. Aren't we told from our childhood not to talk to strangers! And then suddenly one fine morning or night you expect us to share the same bed!
I can’t help but compare the whole procedure - of a girl’s family meeting a boy’s family - with shopping. Yes, shopping!
Before starting their search for a suitable match, both the boy and the girl have their list of likes and dislikes for their future partner. Just like the way we think before shopping as to which brand of jeans we would like and which we wouldn’t, which pattern and colour for the top, type of footwear we would like to have, etc.
But the real shopping fun begins when the girl and the boy’s family meet each other. In a traditional Bengali wedding it is arranged by Ghotoks (matchmakers), who are generally friends or relatives of the couple. The matchmakers facilitate the introduction, and also help agree the amount of any settlement. The party which starts asking questions first is the buyer while the other is the seller. For example, the boy’s family will start listing all good qualities of the boy just like a salesman tries to portray his product in a must-buy manner. On the other hand, the girl’s family will try to figure out the percent of truth in their claims, just like the buyers do to make sure the salesman isn’t lying.
After the first round, the tables are turned. Buyers become sellers and vice-versa. Now, the girl’s family will start proving how perfect to-be bahu she is while the boy’s family will have some brain-work to do to guess the authenticity in their claims. Most importantly, both of them (girl and boy) check mentally whether the list of qualities in the opposite person matches with their list of shopping!
If both parties are satisfied, they go ahead with the marriage. In my words - the deal is finalized with both parties getting benefit both as a buyer as well as a seller. In this way, a total stranger becomes the most important person of your life. Wow!
But wait a minute! Where the heck does love figure in this which is the most important ingredient for marriage? Oh forget it! As long as the girl’s family can say, “Humare sar ka bojh chala gaya!” and the boy’s family can proudly declare, “Humare ghar me oonche khandan ki bahu aa gayi,” nothing else matters! Not even love!
An arranged marriage is similar to object oriented programming approach. We first fix the candidate and then try to implement functions on her. The functions are added to supplement the main program. The functions can be added or deleted. Product is sold on an as is where is basis. Product once sold will not be taken back; it is even tougher if the seal is broken. In case of return which we social people call divorce a hell lot of financial implications arise which generally creates a hole in the guy’s pocket. After all not always God makes a match in heaven, sometimes the devil shows his sense of humour too. Men who go through this understand that women are like hurricanes. When they come, they’re loud and your life is a rush but when they’re gone, so is the house, the children the car and even the dog.

No matter what kind of marriage it is, the persons involved wish that it ends well but many a times it ends in a well.

As far as dowry is concerned it's kind of a chapter in history books for most Bengali marriages, though there might still exist a few cases in the interiors. I personally believe that this creates that extra pressure for the boys to run after more and more money to keep their household balance sheet debt free as after marriage suddenly your expenses increase exponentially. You come to know that you require so many things without which life is so not possible and start wondering how did you ever survive till date, it's like the eighth wonder. This is kind of a reason why nowadays most people are looking for a working girl hoping that her earnings would at least take care of a minuscule of her expenditures.

Then you need to work with the bride and groom to establish a game plan for the multiple venues and rituals required to make this wedding a glorious event for all. And obviously you need to talk about the decorations that augment the ceremony. You also need to finalize the caterer who will cater the food. Remember one thing Bengali weddings generally have a wide spread of dishes. Non-veg is a must. Without it the food is incomplete and the guests unsatisfied. The entire series of events is thus augmented by mouth-watering spreads that accompany each day. Actually marriage is such an event wherein only two people think about sex while others think about food. So if the food is not good, a bad word of mouth spreads for the marriage. And believe me it will haunt you for years. Even on your silver jubilee people would come and say, "Hope this time you don't send us hungry my son" or "This time I told my maid to cook dinner, just in case".

After that you need to send out invitations by giving wedding cards personally. This also helps to get a head count for the caterer booking as they charge you plate wise. Now after all these things are done, you are set for the day.

Bengali weddings are traditionally broken into several rituals. These often take place on separate days. A Bengali Marriage aka Bangali Biye can be divided into the following parts:
Pre-wedding Rituals: Adan Pradan, Patri Patra Ashirvad, Aai Budo Bhaat, Vridhi, Dodhi Mangal, Holud Kota, Adhibas Tatva, Kubi Patta, Snan, Saankha Porano
Wedding Rituals: Bor Boron, Potto Bastra, Saat Paak, Mala Badal, Subho Drishti, Sampradan, Yagna, Saat Pak (couple), Anjali, Sindur Daan and Ghomta
Post-Wedding Rituals: Bashar Ghar, Bashi Biye, Bidaye, Bou Boron, Kaal Ratri, Bou Bhaat, Phool Sajja, Dwira Gaman

There are many pre-wedding rituals and together, they work at building the excitement in anticipation of the wedding day. Let’s now break it up and see what exactly each of them stands for:

1. Adan Pradan – Adan Pradan (give and take) is a ceremony that involves the matching of ancestral lines or bangsas in the presence of a purohit (priest). The purpose is to ensure that the marriage does not take place between close relatives or persons having the same gotra (lineage).
Now this is kind of ironical as in Hindu Mythology, Manu, is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth (just like Adam and Eve in Christianity). It is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and others have been descended, and are, therefore, all called Manavas. So technically this is a waste of time, as no matter whatever we do, we are most certain to indulge in incest. We have always celebrated this kind of things and glamorised this in the name of God, see the affair between Krishna and his aunty Radha. Anyways I still wonder what Manu and his wife Ananti would have thought when little Manu one day came home and told, “Paa I have got news for you. I am in love with little Ananti and am going to marry her.” I sure hope that love was the case as the first of our ancestors were not that dumb to arrange their own children’s wedding among themselves. Anyways I do believe that Ananti might have had a heart attack hearing it. Let’s not indulge into more blasphemy and just think that it had happened many years back and it’s time to move on.
 Lets think that everything is settled so patra (groom) and patri's (bride) fates are now sealed.

2. Aashirwad (Engagement) – Literal meaning of Aashirwad is blessings. This is a confirmation of the marriage alliance. It takes place a couple of days before the wedding.
The ceremony starts with offering of a Sandalwood Tilak with gifts including a piece of gold jewellery along with some "daan" (Rice husk signifying plenitude) and darba grass (symbolizing that he will treat the bride with tenderness). Later as per Hindu tradition, mishti (sweets) are offered to celebrate the occasion.
The ceremony is conducted by a purohit at the residence of the bride or the groom. It just shows that the plot is booked and can be sold to no one else. With today’s real estate demand being all time high, a prime property nowadays is booked well in advance to avoid more eligible customers breaking the deal.
The purohit brings an idol of Bhagwan Narayan. The bride's family pays a visit to the groom and blesses him in the presence of the purohit. The groom's family blesses the bride in similar fashion. It is accompanied by blowing of shaankh (conch shell) and “Ulu Dhoni” or "Ooli" and sprinkling of husked rice.

Generally the Ring Ceremony happens here only. The bride and groom exchange rings, generally golden with diamonds may be. Now I always wondered why left ring finger is the chosen one.
There is a beautiful and convincing explanation given by the Chinese. Thumb represents your Parents, Second (Index) finger represents your Siblings, Middle finger represents yourself (now this makes me think how metaphorical it is in today's context as no matter what you are screwed), Fourth (Ring) finger represents your Life Partner and the Last (Little) finger represents your children. According to tradition in some countries (derived from Roman belief), the wedding ring is worn on the left ring finger because the vein in the left ring finger, referred to as the vena amoris, is directly connected to the heart, a symbol of love.
I personally have a different view for this. Now ring finger generally is the second thinnest finger and left hand is structurally weaker than the right one. You cannot go for the little finger as that would look cheap. So what you do, you choose the ring finger. Result less gold, smaller stones suffice and your budget is reasonable. Just consider your thumb as your ring finger. Scary isn't it?

Marriage Registration is generally done on this day. It has become an integral part of the marriages nowadays. You don't even get pension without showing your marriage certificate. Believe me my grandfather had to get his certificate done after almost 40 years of marriage to get his pension. Anyways this can also be done on marriage day or reception day. But since this is a very lengthy paper work thing so this day is suited best for this purpose.
The registrar comes along and gets both the bride and the grooms signature on a hell lot of documents. Then he also takes finger prints. It's like if you are convicted of something and sent to jail. Well this is a kind of jail. But let's not get into any debate here. After that witnesses need to sign a few documents. Now after the documentation is over comes the funny part. The registrar plays a purohit, takes the groom's hand and puts the brides hand over it. Then first the groom and then the bride has to say "I son/daughter of Mr. X take daughter/son of Mr. Y as my legal wife/husband". Now it is beyond me that how can a husband or wife be illegal. Or are extra marital affairs termed as illegal husbands and wives!

The bride/groom must touch the feet of the elders at the end of the ceremony to take their blessings (aashirwad). Now this might be a difficult task for many as they are used to comforts of their AC office. Moreover, the one family pack that they have created over the years comes in the way. So a little advice, guys do some free hand exercises as believe me whether you live in a nuclear family or not, the list of people who come for the ceremony just never seem to come to an end.
The bride is given a sari, a ring and other ornaments. The groom is presented with a ring, gold buttons and watch at the aashirwad ceremony. Now this is real tricky. For people who have spent their entire life going to cheap second hand outlets buying duplicate stuffs and passing them as the original ones, this is a real nightmare. Because blessings do not go well with empty hands. Actually, gods have created the offerings as a demarcating factor so that ineligible prospects are cut off in first screening only. So evidently, you cannot bless a bride or groom without any gift and more often than not gold ornaments are the only choice. Note of caution you cannot escape by giving city gold. Sooner or later you will be caught, and the humiliation will be unbearable. So however small the ornament may be go for real gold with plus minus a few karats. Things that must drive the buys are: Current Market Price of Gold (it never decreases), whether you have any blood relative getting married soon and so there is a chance to get back what you have given. In the latter case use your better judgment to invest as you are 99% certain that things of similar worth will be returned soon.
For the Aashirwad Ceremony
An alpana or rangoli of lotus flowers or fish. Rice paste is mixed with water for the rangoli. A small banana tree, to be placed at the entrance of the house. Under the tree is placed the mangal ghot (a small copper pitcher). In the ghot, a mango stem with five leaves (amra pallab) is placed in water. These are signs that communicate to neighbors and children that the house has a marriage proceeding. It also indicates the beginning of many heart breaks wherein the probable suitors or ex-lovers become brothers of the bride by divine force and not by choice.
A Sri symbol (a star symbol) is drawn next to the ghot, using sindoor mixed in oil. Diyas (oil lamps) and agarbattis (incense) to light during the ceremony. To maintain the auspiciousness of the occasion, strings of mango leaves are put up at the doorway.
This is like the cheer leaders in Indian IPL matches. They are there to infuse glee and mirth but due to the Indian policies they more often than not disappoint you. You end up seeing nothing but a bunch of fully dressed girls and guys (WTF) jumping around the place.

3. Gaye Halud or Haldi or Turmeric Ceremony is a ceremony in which five or seven married women of the household grind turmeric with mortar and pestle. They then apply turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride/groom. It is a traditional preparatory celebration, which takes place before the wedding. It is the tradition of applying holud or haldi (turmeric paste) on the bride and groom’s skin in order to beautify them for their wedding. Holud is an antiseptic which not only kills germs and bacteria, but also has a yellow hue which gives skin a unique colour and glow. In ancient times they did not have the parlours and stuffs wherein a radical transformation of a human being could have been done. Sometimes the entire look changes. But in absence of these advanced techniques people resorted to natural products like Holud.
On a more medical angle marriage is the only ceremony where turmeric is used before someone gets hurt.

 Haldi Uptan: In this ceremony the bride/groom is made to sit/stand in midst of four plantain trees, which are considered auspicious, kept at four corners of the room.
Gifts are a big part of the gaye holud ceremony. Everything is packed in decorative cane or bamboo trays, baskets and supdas (also known as kula). Anyways while the bride and groom experience the torture of being painted with Holud or Turmeric Powder for convenience, others just want to be a part of it for the food that is on offer. It’s a prestige issue if the guests are not satisfied with the bonhomie that is extended to them.

The ladies of both the families become very busy decorating the Tattva -- skillfully decorated and artistically displayed, these are the gifts exchanged between the two families. They also reflect the taste and culture of the families. It primarily comprise  dress, a lot of sweets most of which go down the drain and obviously a big fish.

a. Gaye halud tattva - This is sent before the haldi or turmeric ceremony. It is for the bride from the groom's house. The gifts include at least six sarees with blouses, petticoats and cosmetics to go with them. Also among the gifts are fish, assorted sweets, curd, paan, dhaan and durba. A relative of the groom arrives at the bride's house with an entourage of servants bearing the gifts. Incense is lit welcome them and conch shells are blown. The bearers are given sweets and bakshish (reward). Moreover, the bearers take this opportunity to eye on the opposite sex prospects that they can zero in later during the ceremony. It’s like fishing; you hope to catch the best fish but you are neither sure about the time that is required, nor on the success rate.

b. Adhibas Tattva - This is the name given to the gifts coming from the bride's house. It includes a saree for the groom's mother, and fish, sweets, curd, paan, dhaan, and durba. The gifts come on a brass plate or kasar thala borne by servants from the bride's house. They are welcomed as warmly as the groom's gift bearers who visit the bride's house. After all hospitality is kind of a prestige issue in this case and you cannot just lose the battle with the bride's house's hospitality. The fight is brutal and critics are severe.

Generally the marketing is done from the tempting markets of Gariahat, Shyam Bazaar and New Market. There is a riot of colours on the counters as the shop attendants bring out sarees after sarees for the bride and her entire entourage. There are the ever-favourite reds with gold work, the bright greens with yellow, the blues with navy, the purple with the silver, the creams with the maroons and so many more shades that males generally have no idea of. We generally spend the time fascinating the beautiful ladies around in those sarees. May be an “Oo lala” sequence. Our bride is generally draped in a lovely bright red and gold ‘benaroshi’ saree, red an auspicious colour in a Bengali Hindu wedding. Sometimes I wonder how much time and money is put to select a saree which is worn hardly a couple of times in its entire life cycle.

4. Aai buro bhaat (the last meal of the bride in the house before marriage) – The day before the marriage is the aai-buro-bhaat. The last meal of the unmarried girl in her home generally celebrated with all relatives and friends, songs are sung and many jokes shared in giggling tones by the many aunts and boudis. It's kind of bridal shower. This is actually fun. The jokes shared have a sexual innuendo attached to it. They seem to tell the bride what lies ahead. But seriously does today’s generation really need it! They are experienced in more than one ways for the events that follow marriage. They might have had many net practices, practice matches, T20 and one dayers before getting into the serious business of test matches. Rather marriage is just a license to do things openly that is otherwise considered taboo.

(The bachelorette party is not that common in Bengali marriages. Though nowadays, a kind of girl's night out is organized by the lady friends of the would be bride. This kind of gathering primarily comprise a few fun filled games, dancing, singing, eating and sometimes drinking. They are generally minus the stripper shows. Though the Akshay Kumar and John Abraham starer movie Desi Boyz created a buzz in the box office, most of the Bengali desi boys would look rather ugly if they gyrate their bodies while stripping. With body hairs and a family pack instead of six packs, they are better off with their clothes on.)

5. Vridhi – This is about offering puja to the ancestors of the bride and the groom. The ceremony is performed a day before the marriage. It is attended by all the family members. Alpana or rangoli is done and on it is placed a ghot with amra pallab. All the samagri or items for the puja are arranged in a baran dala. A baran dala is a silver plate containing items for puja. A 'Sri' symbol is made in the baran dala. The purohit brings an idol of Bhagwan Narayan to the puja. The idol is worshipped by lighting agarbattis (incense sticks) and diyas (lamps). The vridhi is usually performed by a paternal uncle. Tradition demands that the uncle and the bride/groom be on a liquid diet (which may or may not comprise alcoholic beverages). I hope the ancestors watching dance shows in heaven or getting deep fried in hell are relieved to see that there lineage will continue for generations to come. At least the bhit puja has been done. Though I have serious doubts on my own hopes, considering the fact that I tend to forget so many things now only when I am just 30. Think of those who have been out of touch with their families for generations now. Some of the ancestors might have been recycled in the process and given a re-birth with no memory of their past life whatsoever. Anyways it’s a way of paying homage to those who have made it possible for us to see the light of day. Sometimes this zeal of getting out of the mother’s womb to see the daylight result in marriages. Let’s not get into debatable topics and just keep it simple and move on.

6. Dodhi Mangal – This ceremony is performed at the crack of dawn on the day of the wedding in the house of the bride and of the groom. About ten married women accompany the bride/groom to a nearby pond. They invite the Goddess Ganga to the wedding and bring back a pitcher of water from the pond to individually bathe the bride and the groom. The water is also stored in the bride's house and this water is later sprinkled on the newly married couple, when they come to the bride's house eight days after the wedding. I have serious concerns with this ritual. First of all Goddess Ganga has been washing the sins of so many people for so long that it is now polluted beyond any measures. A dip in it might even result in skin disease and you just don’t want it to happen on your wedding day. You cannot pass them as beauty spots. Once I dared and took a dip in Ganges and when I got up I had Holy Shit on my head. It was certainly shit and Ganges is supposed to be holy. That made me realise that how much multi tasking she had been doing all these years. Anyways people generally go to a nearby pond which is even more dangerous due to lack of proper cleaning and dumping of garbage. Sometimes the insects dive in them to commit suicide. And in today’s context finding a pond is becoming ever so hard as they are being used for building houses. Soon the trip to the pond might be replaced to a trip to the bathroom on the morning of Dodhi Mangal.
After the bath, they offer food to the bride/groom. The meal consists of macher laija bhaja (fried fish) followed by jal dhala bhaat (rice cooked in water). Curd and chiruya complete the meal. I know doi mach is a Bengali delicacy but I have no idea how they gel separately. But as they say all goes to the same place and so even if they land there at separate times the stomach mixer grinder might take care of it.
One pointer for the people who diet: The couple must eat well for they will be having their next meal only after all the wedding rituals are over. Though people tend to bend the rules and eat in between as well.
This is done in pre-dawn hour, known as the brahma muhurta, which is regarded as the most positive of all times in the day. Seriously! For people like us brahma muhurta is like midnight and if someone is made to leave his/her bed at that time, there is no bigger crime than that.
I think this fasting ritual was a well planned move so that the bride-groom do not eat something during the day which messes up their digestive system and as a result instead of spending time around the fire in a marriage hall, they spend their time in a person's most loved place where they go for downloading stuffs almost everyday all throughout their life - the lavatory.

7. Wedding Piris - The piris are brought to the bride's house a day before the wedding or on the wedding day. A relative or friend paints and decorates the piris which are used to seat the bride and the groom during the wedding ceremony. When the decoration is completed and the piris presented by the proud artist, conch shells are blown and ululation taken up. The bride’s piri needs to be really screened properly as bride’s brothers are supposed to lift the bride in the piri while the marriage rituals are performed. Believe me with the heavy weight dresses even the slimmest of girls might weigh tons.

8. Kubi Patta - This is a short ceremony to revere Sant Kuber. It takes place in the houses of the bride and the groom. On the day of the marriage, offerings are made at the altar of the Saint. The family members place three metal glasses filled to the brim with dhaan, khoi (pulses), and crushed rice. This is just a small bribe to keep the Gods on our side.

9. Snan – The snan literally means bathing. In this case, it stands for the bathing rituals that the bride and groom must individually follow on the day of the wedding. The snan takes place in the late afternoon or evening. After bathing, the bride and groom must wear the new set of clothes that have been presented to them by their in-laws. The worn clothes are later given away to a napit (barber).

10. Sankha Paula - The bride in her maternal home follows the tradition of wearing sankha porana or conch shell bangles that have been dipped in turmeric water. After her bath she wears a new sari and wears the sankha poranas. While priest says Vedic chants, seven married women embellish the bride's hands with the traditional bangles made of Shankha (shell) and Paula (coral). The shell is supposed to mirror the qualities of moon-serene and calm, on the bride. The coral is supposed to be beneficial for health. This is just like the door sign which tells you, “This is a private property and trespassers will be prosecuted.” This is to ward off unwarranted attention that ladies get from other guys.

11. Dressing up the bride - This is a ritual in itself. The bride adorns herself in all her bridal finery. Her hair is tied into a bun and covered with a veil. The mukut is placed on her head and secured in place by pinning it to the veil. After her bridal makeover, a design of the mukut is traced on her face using the chandan paste. The bride must sit with the gaach kouto and kaajal laata for the ceremonies that follow. Nowadays people also spend hours in a parlour for the same. After all for a common man it is their one shot at the lime light. One night when no one else dare to look better than them. When all eyes are riveted on the bride/groom and whatever they do is applauded. It’s just like getting the Oscars. Others feel jealous but have no other option but to clap and smile.
But seriously with 3-4 kg heavy benarasi and equally heavy ornaments and many other such things, it's kind of a torture on the bride specially when she is on a fast. But somehow they always pull it off.

12. Chhadnatola / Mandap - The mandap is the place where the wedding ceremony is conducted. Two banana trees are planted at the mandap and a large alpana is made with rice paste. The mandap is decorated for the event with flowers and lights. In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice that still continues.


Costumes in Bengali Wedding 
Bridal attire: This is a ritual in itself. The bride adorns herself in all her bridal finery. Her hair is tied into a bun and covered with a veil. The mukut is placed on her head and secured in place by pinning it to the veil. After her bridal makeover, a design of the mukut is traced on her face using the chandan paste. The bride must sit with the gaach kouto and kaajal laata for the ceremonies that follow.
The red is a color is considered sacred among the Hindus. A Bengali Bride attires her marriage dress in colors of red, pink and maroon. On the day of her marriage a bride has to look good starting from her sari, jewelry, footwear, make up to everything. Nowadays many traditional designs have been incorporated in a bridal dress while still giving it a modern contemporary look.

Groom's attire: The bridegrooms in Bengali wedding wear a silk dhoti and punjabi. However, while performing the marriage rituals the groom drapes a silk cloth around his body known as the "jor". The end of this cloth is tied to the anchal of the bride`s saree. The groom is well dressed in Dhoti and Kurta, along with topor, which is a paper and shoal conical hat. The groom has to carry a darpan (mirror) all the time.

1. Welcoming the Groom
Bor Jatri - The members of the groom's house as well as his friends dress in their best attire and journey to the bride's house where the wedding takes place. Keep in mind, you should be well dressed if you want to make an impression on the pretty lasses whom you have zeroed in in the morning.

Bor Boron - The groom and his relatives arrive at the bride's house to the ringing of bells, blowing of conch shells and ululation. When the bor jatri reaches the bride's place, usually the mother of the bride along with other members come out to welcome the groom and his family by showing the holy earthen lamp, sprinkling trefoil, and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow (kula). The baran dala is held by an elder female relative of the bride's and the plate is first touched to the groom's forehead, then to ground, and back again to his forehead in a gesture of part blessing, part-reverence. The groom is offered sweets and sherbet.
The bor jatri has no role in this. Only the cameraman tries to get the best shot and in the process shows some acrobatic stuffs. The funny thing is that sometimes the people have to replay the process so that a perfect picture is captured in the camera.
Water is sprinkled on the doorstep as the groom steps into the house to mark the auspicious moment. Both, the mother of the bride and of the groom do not attend this ceremony. It is believed that this will protect the couple from the 'evil eye'. Now the point to understand is that who is the evil eye! Certainly not the mothers, then why are they not allowed to attend the ceremony? The only logical reason may be to postpone the saas bahu tu tu main main to a later date. Moreover, it saves the cost of one plate at the dinner.
 Before I forget we Bengalis love to give training to our children early . So along with the groom, a small boy also goes to the bride`s place, with the similar dress as the groom has worn. He is known as neet-bar.

2. The Wedding Ceremony – The purohit conducts the wedding ceremony.
Potto Bastra - After the groom is seated at the chadnatolla (wedding altar and canopy) - the sanctum sanctorum where only the groom, bride and the priest takes their place, the groom is offered new clothes (dress to be worn during the ceremony, typically comprising a punjabi, dhoti, and undergarments) by the person who is to do the sampradaan - a kind of gift to the boy from the girl's side. He is also given a silk cloth called "Jor". Invariable the potto bastra is transparent to such degree that the undergarments companies get a free advertisement. Deep cut frenchies are a strict no no if you are not a lingerie model. Generally boxers rule the day. And if you are normal Bengali boy with a nodhor bhuri (paunch) showing prosperity, or with too much body hair, you really find it difficult to hide your vital statistics in the vest. It's really difficult as sometimes you need to hold your breath to give a good appearance in front of your beautiful shaalis (sister in laws). It's a test of your resolute nature, determination and perseverence.
For the bor jatris it is of no use, if only girls were given such dresses it would have got some dedicated attention from the members present.

Lagna - It is the muhurta (auspicious moment)for the marriage. Generally it is the evening, when the Bengali marriages usually take place. The marriage rituals should start within this lagna or else the girl becomes lagna bhrastha, a very taboo thing in our culture. She is not deemed suitable for marriage after that. You must be kidding me! After that much investment and expectations I don't think a groom will return empty handed.

Saat Paak - The bride, usually seated on a low wooden stool called pidi is lifted by her brothers (or lovers turned brothers who could not seize the opportunity) to the mandap and is taken round the groom in seven complete circles and then placed in front of him. The significance is they are winded up securely to each other. As far as the piri bearers are concerned, they should be thankful for getting opportunity to get their biceps flexed.

Subho Drishti - When all these are done, the bride keeps her face and specially her eyes hidden with a beetle leaf that she holds in her palm. This is actually a risky proposition because if the product is changed and a different model is dispatched, it would be very difficult to replace. But no risk no gain.
After saat paak the bride and the groom are made to look at each other in front of all the assembled invitees. It is wonderful to see bride blushing, when she peeps through the beetle leaf, which she holds in her palm, to have a glimpse of her significant half. This exchange of loving glance is to initiate them to be together officially by the society. After hours of phone talks, video chats and so on and so forth when a girl still blushes and hesitates it suddenly dawns on you why girls are natural actors.

Mala Badal - After the circles are completed, still sitting high on the piri, the bride and the groom exchange garlands of fragrant flowers thrice, while the purohit chants the mantras (to conduct the wedding). This is the first step in which they accept each other. Var Mala Symolizes the concept of Samarpan (surrender) and Union (Ekya). Technically it's a kind of noose and to keep you honest and to remind you that you are hanged till death. Again there is a show of might as both the houses try to prove their supremacy by lifting their protagonist (bride/groom) as high as possible during the mala badal. It is believed whoever wins will have an upper hand in the life to follow. Such novices as marriage is an occasion where a guy loses his bachelor's degree and a girl gets her master's degree.

Sampradan - The bride then takes her place at the chadnatolla where an elderly male member of the bride's family hands her over to the groom and the couple's hands are bound by the sacred thread amidst recital of Vedic chants and are placed on the mangal ghot - a brass pitcher filled with water that is covered with mango leaves attached to one twig and a green coconut placed on it. This is that point in a girl's life wherein she shifts from using her father's credit card to her husband's one.

Yagna - The bride and groom sit in front of the Agni (sacred fire) and chant mantras after the priest. Agni, the fire god is made the divine witness to the marriage.

Saptapadi - Seven circular rounds are taken by the couple around the fire thereby solemnizing the occasion. The grinding stone, on which spices are grounded, is placed upside down. Seven circular rangolis are drawn near it and one paan is placed on each of them. The girl stands in front and as she takes her first step on the stone, the boy gently nudges her left foot with his right. She then places her foot on the first alpana. These seven rounds are known as Saat Pheras, signifying the sanctity and solemnity of marriage. There is an exchange of 7 fundamental priniciples of an ideal marriage. The groom (the Pandit/Priest does the honors of course) tells her 7 principles and expects the wife to follow and vice-versa. I think all these sevens just signify the fact that from then onwards 7 days a week they have to bear each other no matter what happens.
The even bigger problem lies in the fact that by doing this you are actually entering an unseen agreement which travels through births. If by any chance you are not satisfied with your spouse in this birth and feel like compromising with him/her in this life and hope to get a better version in your next life, NEWS FLASH - by doing this saptapadi you are now bound with your spouse for seven lives (and no matter what you will get the same model - mere Karan Arjun aayenge moment). The dreaded part is that you are not even getting to get away with this version after seven lives (so married couples who are wishing that this is their seventh life, forget it), since every life you are renewing the contract and are booking it for seven lives again. So this is a vicious never ending circle and even if death takes you apart the marriages will join you again and again and again. So deal with it, and start working hard to upgrade your versions with latest updates in the market so that with each lifetime your efforts are less and your compatibility increases. I can only hope that the efforts remain visible as the soul passes from one life to another, Amen.

Anjali - An offering to the fire is made. The bride's brother puts puffed rice (khoi) in the hands of the bride, and the groom standing close to her holds her hands from the back and extends their arms forward. They then pour the offering into the fire together. Be careful this is not the place where any hanky panky scene starts. So mind it!

Sindoor Daan and Ghomta - Once again seated at their respective places in chadnatolla. The groom dips a ring into sindoor or vermilion (a symbol of marriage worn by Hindu women thereafter) and traces a line of it from between the girl's eyebrows through the parting in her hair. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta or veil. Generally a newly wed bride will wear a ghomta and look down throughout so that her face is not completely visible to others. These work wonders in their favor as now none of the young male members present can suddenly recognize her and shout, "Arrey she was to my girl friend a few months back!" and thus create a chaotic and unpleasant situation.
Now the couple is considered officially married. A lavish wedding feast follows this where a number of varieties of fish are served along with a variety of other non-vegetarian dishes and sweets. 
Sindoor is symbolic and reminds the woman of her husband's presence and his love. It is considered a sign of Saubhagya or Good Luck. Of course if you are a woman you feel unashamedly happy and lucky if you are married to a man who loves you. At times though you also feel it is not you who needs the reminding so much as the brainless men who say "Will you be friends with me " (Creep!). If the husband is not worthy...well then who needs reminding? Do away with the husband and the symbols, I guess.

For a Hindu wedding, a priest asks the couple to chant mantras from the holy texts that formalises the following:
Kanya sampradaan: the ceremonial giving away of the bride by the father of the bride
Saat Paake Ghora: The couple walks round the ceremonial fire seven times.
The fun starts if the two purohits from the rival camps decide to go for the kill. In the race for becoming the one, they chant all the mantras that are available in the book (no matter whether it belongs to marriage or not). The marriage is unnecessarily extended and the bride and the groom who are accustomed to ac rooms sweat it out in front of the fire. It’s a good way to shed a few extra pounds that you have gained while eating all those junk foods that you always try to stop eating.


1. Basar Ghar - The bride and groom are welcomed inside the bride's home. There is merry-making and the couple is served dinner. Jokes and poetry recitals by friends and relatives keep the couple awake all through the night. This is generally attended by the groom’s friends who are desperately in the hunt of some bong beauty. It’s a platform to show their talents (whether or not they have any is immaterial). It’s another way making the newly wed understand that marriages are a way to make people feel at home in case they reach hell in their after life. Or else why a whole night marathon would would be put into the schedule which in itself is so hectic for the newly wed. What they need is their quota of beauty nap and what they get is a cacophony.

2. Bashi Biye - The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with vermilion. He does this by looking into a mirror. The newly-weds visit the mandap, and worship the Sun God in the presence of the purohit. This is the final registration of the plot. Now the land is officially done and dusted. It’s now out of the market until and unless some other unlawful things are practiced by the couple later on.

3. Bidaai – It is a highly emotional ceremony. As the bride steps out of her maternal home, she throws a handful of rice over her head, into her mother's aanchal. This gesture indicates that the bride has repaid all the debts to her mother and that she wishes prosperity to her maternal home, as she departs to prosper her man's life.
Now this ritual has serious flaws. How can you repay a lifetime’s debt with a handful of rice! Let’s look at the financial implications attached to it. It’s same as that of any company. Say the company is into raising child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income, two-parent family.
The tangible costs of the company on an average is Rs. 50 lakhs (not including college). The break up being:
• Clothing - 06%
• Health Care - 08%
• Miscellaneous - 08%
• Transportation - 14%
• Food - 16%
• Child Care and Education - 17%
• Housing - 31%

Adding the cost of electronics, private tutoring and sports and dance classes, and considering the average child now stayed at home until 24, the cost just increases. Then there are mobiles, recharges, makeup, date allowance, cigarettes, alcohols, late night parties, motor-bikes and many other such things which also need to be accounted for.
Companies often own things of value that cannot be touched, felt, or seen. In this case it consists of:
• Love
• Sleepless nights to take care of the child
• Guidance
• Security
• So on and so forth which consists of the intangible advantages a company has over its competitors such as an excellent reputation, strategic location, business connections, etc.

FV = PV x ((1+r) / (1+i)) ^ n
FV => Future Value of Money
PV => Present Value of Money
r => Compund Rate of Interest
i => Rate of Inflation
n => Number of Years

A pretty complicated formula to calculate approximately the actual value of money that we have spent years ago. Now we have excluded it as well from our calculation just to keep it simple. I know that money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. When a child acuuses his/her parents to be miser and preaches that they are misers, unwilling to spend money, failing to utilize their wealth properly. Their mind is occupied by nothing but only one thought-how to preserve wealth. To ensure the safety of wealth, they spend most of their time worrying about the means to guard it. But what they forget is that their parents are not lunatic capitalists but rational misers having a larger picture in their mind.

So when a handful of rice which hardly costs a few rupees is used to balance the lifetime of expenses, it becomes a wee bit ludicrous. So the comparison is really meaningless until and unless you consider it a graph and define the scale on it. No matter what the debt cannot be repaid and this is done just to get rid of the girl. Now the parents are day mukto.

While going the bride bursts into tears a la Bollywood style with parents, relatives and friends joining in a tearful adieu. Now the daughter has become parayi. This is in no way less than a tear jerker from Ekta Kapoor. Everyone just cry. Sociologists opine that the ceremonial crying of a bride portrays her reluctance to leave her parent’s house and to give up her carefree childhood to begin a life of a burden-bearing wife. Therefore, ceremonial weeping is a natural grief signifying that she is resisting departure to her groom’s house.
This ceremony marks the departure of the bride and groom. From here they set off for the groom's home. The newly weds are blessed by the elders. But seriously from where does so much water come without the use of glycerine! You can actually extinguish a mid sized fire outbreak if you collect the water. Even half of the members present can take their bath if the water is actually harvested. But then we have not yet come up with such ingenius ideas and so actually ruin such natural resource.
The father of the bride takes her to the car or the Doli and hands her to the groom.

4. Bou Baran - This ritual is performed to welcome the bride and groom to the latter's home. The women of the house pour water on the ground beneath their vehicle when they alight. The groom's elder brother's wife holds a plate containing Alta or Mahawar which is a red lac dye and milk under the bride's feet.
Having imprinted the soles of her feet thus, she leads her by the arm into the house. The elders of the house bless the newly weds. The next few days just go in the cleansing process to remove the foot steps. In India girls are considered the manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. Actually speaking previously dowry was a very common thing and so indeed a girl was accompanied by wealth. But nowadays dowry is illegal and so this ritual is becoming notional.
The mother-in-law then takes honey and touches it to the lips and ears of the bride. The reason being from now on she should talk sweet and hear sweet. But this is a kind of oxymoron and I can bet that no honey in this world has the power to transform a person to such levels.
Then starts a few traditional games like "Kori Khoja" and "Leta Machh Dhora" and a few others. Think of it like your first day in college, you hardly know anyone. Then you are called upon for ragging by the seniors. Now dear there is a Leta Machh (one of the most slippery fish) in this and you need to catch it. Get Set Go. Or there is a kori in this muddy water and let's see who finds it the bride or the groom. It's really nrevous times as the bride is trying hard to make a good first impression. It's like constipation, you are trying hard to get it over, but somehow it just never ends.

5. Bharan Poshan & Bou Bhat - The bou baran ritual is followed by a welcome meal at the groom's house, when he offers a plate containing sweets and a sari to the bride, to symbolize that hereafter; he would take care and satisfy all her needs. You better take care. Or else in no time the house will be the field of Kurukshetra and no matter what you won’t be a part of the Pandavas.
The bride then prepares a rice dish, the ceremony that is known as bahubhaat, in order to serve the family. This custom symbolizes that she has finally entered into the family, as one of its member. It is during this ceremony that the bride has her first meal in the home of her in-laws. Until now, her meals usually arrive from a neighbour's house. This ceremony is followed by a reception in the evening, hosted by the groom's father.

6. Kaal Ratri – An interesting Bengali post-wedding ritual is the kaal ratri, which is conducted on the second night after the wedding. According to the tradition, the bride and the groom are not allowed even to look at each other, during kaal ratri. Seriously, this is done just to preserve the energy of the newly weds. They are already tired and if let alone might be disappointed with their performance the first time. The performance issue might scar their ego so much so that it might result in an unhappy marriage. So kaal ratri is actually a good thing so that the duo actually rests before the next big thing or as I have already said the test match. If translated in English Kaal Ratri stands for tomorrow night which just teases the newly wed letting them know it's not today, tomorrow is the night of action. So be ready.

7. Phool Sajja - The last of the wedding ceremonies, this occasion sees the bride in a new sari and the groom in a new dhoti and kurta (see the irony in it). Their nuptial bedroom is beautifully decorated with flowers, which is why the term, phool sajja. The flowers, clothes and sweets for the occasion usually arrive as gifts from the bride's house. Groom’s sisters generally ask for money to let the groom enter the room. Anyways, all these things are immaterial as by this time both the bride groom are filled with anticipation. They are ready to unleash their inner animal. Though in reality most of the time this night also they doze off out of sheer tiredness.

8. Dira Gaman - Dira gaman is a ritual wherein the newly wed couple visits the bride's house, for the first time after the wedding. It is this time, when the thread, which was tied on the wrist of the bride by the purohit during the wedding, is formally cut. This auspicious occasion is marked by the blowing of conch shells, accompanied by ululation. A ceremony that is conducted when the newly-weds visit the bride's house for the first time after the wedding. The thread that was tied by the purohit on the bride's wrist during the wedding rituals is cut during this ritual. Conch shells are blown to the accompaniment of ululation to mark the auspicious moment.

9. Madhu Chandrima - This is a direct Bengali translation of the custom Honey Moon. During this the newly wed couple are deeply madly in love exploring the new avenues of happiness in some place away from home. Generally for Bengalis madhu chandrima might be a ride to DiPuDa (Digha, Puri and/or Darjeeling). Though Kerala backwaters is gaining importance nowadays. See if you do not spend money on your moon then the honey won't be as sweet.
The one thing that I fail to understand is that when the primary motto of madhu chandrima is to make full use of the license to do the F-word, why the hell people spend thousands of rupees to go to exotic locales! I don't think you are going to do it outside of your room. Have you ever heard of a husband saying, "Darling that tree looks pretty let's get started". Or a wife saying, "Dear this mall just turned me on let's do the thing over a cup of coffee in Barrista". It just can't happen. So why waste money. The maximum you can do is go to a nearby hill station if you married in summer or just be at your place if you married in winter. Going places makes sense if it's a love marriage and the couple has nothing new to explore as the testing of the product has already been extensively done.
Some people go a step further. They buy travel books on places they are supposed to visit. What the heck! I never studied my course material, and a whole 500 page book on a single city. Are you kidding. What are you going to do! Play Dus Ka-Dam. Like the wife would seductively lie on the bed with the book and the husband will stand 10 paces away. Then there will be a quiz session, with every right answer you get to get one step closer and with every wrong one one pace away. Believe me in such cases they just face Sach Ka Samna, the husband would spend the nights with the watchman of the hotel doing night watches until and unless like childhood here also cheating is skilfully done during the exams. Funny but true people just want everything to be so perfect that they left no stones unturned.
But if this zeal is not continued in maintaining the relationship over the years, the madhu just tends to fade away of their life and the bride turns from chandramukhi to suryamukhi and her number in mobile turns from love to wrong number.
I personally believe that love is photogenic; it needs darkness to develop and so these extravagant trips are just futile.

This marks the end of the saga. Hopefully it happens once in a lifetime because it is taxing emotionally, physically and obviously financially. From now on the bride never cries and the groom never laughs; as the old adage goes after a marriage a guy loses his bachelor's degree and a girl gains her master's degree. And many years down the line if the marriage is still intact they can open their marriage albums and/or CD to go down the memory lanes and have a quiet laugh on what some dub as the biggest mistake of their lives. I still wonder why this elaborate marriage albums are made as hardly anyone sees them and it just ends up in the shelves gathering dust all over it. It is similar to all the unnecessary documentation that we have to do for any kind of work that we do. It is just for future reference but are hardly referred.
In India for a boy the voting age is 18 when he becomes adult and marriage age is minimum 21. By this the government is actually suggesting the guys to indulge in self service or do some shadow practice if not net practice. Now once he gets married, his wife has a clear set of definitions for the men in her life - world's most perfect man: her dad; world's wisest man: her grand father; world's saddest man: her brother; world's luckiest man: her sister's husband; world's most reliable men: her friends; world's richest men: neighbor's husband; and world's biggest liar, miser and scumbag: her own husband. The funny part is if you are getting married at 21 you don't even have a weapon to survive the first 4 years of marriage as the eligible drinking age in India is 25.

But on a serious note marriage can give one the deepest, happiest moments of life. And that's one of the reasons God created it. It was part of God's "Happiness Plan." It is us who often complicate the things and make our lives miserable. One of the most common problems in marriage occurs when she wants empathy and he's trying to fix things. Tell your partner what kind of listening you want. Treat your mate as if he wants to make you happy but doesn't know how. You love him, after all. You picked him. Help him out.


Dodo Ganguli said...

Hey Sayan..Bravo on your humor and such a different take on Bengali Marriage..I just loved it...although need to go through this over again minutely..carry on mate!!

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