Bengali Wedding Traditions

Published: 20th December 2010
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It can be difficult to comprehend the different rituals of a Bengali wedding, each of which is traditionally split into various occasions organised and celebrated on separate occasions. Although I am a wedding photographer in Dorset, I have direct links with Bangladesh and thought I would explain the intricacies of a traditional Bengali wedding and its rituals.

In ancient times, the initial two celebrations used to consist of the Gaye Holud of the bride, followed by the groomís. Bride and groomís Gaye Holud makes up the third and fourth events of the nupital fun nowadays, which basically consists of the close family of the bride and groom getting together to be introduced to the bride and groom. However, recently the engagement ceremony has experienced a sharp increase in popularity and become the initial part of the sequence of events.

Following the Gaye Holud used to be the marriage ceremony. According to heritage the brideís relatives, being the hosts of the event, bear the costs of everything on the wedding day. The groom and his side are widely accepted as the guests. Guests are usually expected to arrive later than the hosts, i.e. the brideís relatives. The couple sit separately until a marriage officiator and witnesses take the consent of both people getting married for the wedding ceremony. As the relationship legalises, a blessing takes place for the coupleís longevity by the priest. After that the wedding couple are brought in the same room and gets to celebrate the remainder of their wedding day together.

Finally you get the reception party, which is paid for in its entirety by the groom's relatives, and therefore making the bride's relatives the guests this time round. It is commonly accepted that once a woman is married, she officially leaves her parentís family to join her new family. Thus the bride is considered to be one of the hosts on the reception party.

Events celebrating engagement are usually very intimate compared to all the events, consisting of the immediate and very close family members of the couple getting hitched. In the years gone by, most marriages were arranged by the guardians of the bride and groom, and the ceremony of the bride and groom getting engaged usually consisted of the groom's parents or guardians placing the engagement ring on the bride's ring finger to officially 'engage' her as their future daughter-in-law. Recently this ritual has transformed where the groom himself carries out the engagement with his parents as witness, regardless of the marriage being arranged or not by the family. This change in tradition has been warmly welcomed by the younger generations.

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