Weddings in India

Wedding is said to be one of the most significant events of a person’s life. It involves the union of two souls. Marriage is an auspicious affair for all the Indians. Indian wedding involves the performance of a gamut of rituals and customs. However, India is a land of diversity. People of different cultures and customs live in India. So wedding rituals in India vary considerably between ethnic groups and cultures and social classes of India.

History of Indian Wedding

The Indian Vedas say that people are supposed to marry after puberty. However, in ancient ages, child marriages were very common in India. It was basically because of the several invasions in Northern India. People gave their daughters in marriage only to save them from the foreign invaders. As far as remarriage and divorce are concerned, they were completely forbidden in ancient India. Polygamy was also prohibited.

In medieval period, marriage was mandatory for all girls except the ones who had chosen the path of asceticism. Polygamy was a common practice during this time. However, in modern times, divorce and remarriage have been legalized. But polygamy is considered to be a criminal offense and is entitled to punishment. However, according to the Islamic personal law of Sheriat , a man can have a maximum of 4 wives. For a Muslim, it is not a offence to have many wives.

Community Wedding in India

India is the residing land of different community of People. The community wedding in India can be classified as under:

Hindu Wedding
Muslim Wedding
Christian Wedding
Hindu Wedding in India

The customs involved in Hindu marriages are basically traditional. The hymns and verses uttered during the wedding ceremony are mostly Sankrit verses. As per Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Hindus belonging to any caste or sect can intermarry. Special Marriage Act, 1954 sanctions the marriage between a Hindu and Non-Hindu. Hindu wedding in India include several pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals.

Manusmriti speaks of 8 types o Hindu marriages. The following types of Hindu marriages were common in ancient India:

Brahma marriage
Prajapatya Marriage
Rakshasa Marriage
Daiva Marriage
Gandharva Marriage
Arsha Marriage
Paishacha Marriage
Asura Marriage
At present registry marriage has been made compulsory in India.

Muslim Wedding in India

Muslim wedding, referred to as ‘Nikah’, is celebrated with utmost splendor. Islam does not allow inter-religious, marriages. The wedding ceremony can be arranged at the groom’s or bride’s house. But these days, Muslims in India prefer grandly decorated banquet halls as their marriage venue. The pre-marriage rituals include Istikhara and Imam-Zamin, Mangni,Manjha and Sanchaq. Arsi Mushaf, salami, Rukhsati, Kheer Chatai, Runumai and Bridal Night are some of the rituals that Indian Muslims observe after marriage.

Christian wedding in India

Christian wedding in India mostly takes place in churches in front of the priest. It involves the observance of various ceremonies and rituals. However, the rituals vary from a denomination to another. The wedding is declared in all church services before three weeks of the marriage day. The bible is read, the sermons are uttered, vows are taken. After the sermons, the parents of the bride move forward to give their daughter’s hand in marriage.

Online Matrimonials in India

Now-a-days, arranging a marriage in India has become very easy. One can seek help from the various budding matrimonial sites in finding his/her ‘right person’.One of the fast emerging matrimonial website providing one stop solution to all your wedding needs is-

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Weddings as per different geographies of India

India is a vast land which witnesses a variety of marriage ceremonies based on religion as well as region.

India is a land of multiple religions and multiple languages and almost all the religions of India consider wedding to be one of the most serious affairs of life. In India marriage is more a religious ritual than just a social or legal obligation. It is a way to unite two souls. In fact it can be said that Indian weddings are a perfect combination of tradition as well as celebration and revelry. Interestingly it might be noted that Indian wedding does not necessarily mean a Hindu wedding rather it is a melting pot for almost all religious weddings like Islam, Jewish, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Apart from different religious weddings, Indian weddings also vary according to different regions. It is true that weddings are of varied types in the Indian subcontinent but one thing that is common to all the Indian Weddings is the essence of commitment.

The different types of Indian wedding based on the regions are namely the North Indian Wedding, the East Indian Wedding, the South Indian Wedding and the West Indian Wedding.

The North Indian Weddings have their own style of grandeur and magnificence and has gained immense popularity across the nations. North Indian Weddings with all their splendor and brilliance have cast its spell on so many foreigners that there are numerous people who consider getting married in India. Consequently wedding tourism in India has gained immense popularity. Apart from the grandeur that is attached to the north Indian Weddings, another important feature of North Indian weddings is their loyalty to customs and traditions. North Indian Weddings have a lot of common features with the other parts of India. North Indian wedding traditions include many rites and rituals performed on the main day.

The most striking of the South Indian Weddings are its flowers and fragrance. The gates of the wedding hall are decorated with full-grown plantain trees. The significance of mango leaves festoons is an evergreen relationship between the couple. Notes of nadaswaram are recited loud and clear to suggest that the union is scared and divine. Kolam or more commonly known as rangoli designs are made at the doorsteps to display the colourful and the happy mood of the occasion. A hearty welcome is given to the guests who arrive for the function. Another important custom of the South Indian Marriages is to sprinkle rose water on the guests in order to perfume them.

Offering of flowers to female guests indicate a wish of sowbhayam for the lady guests. The sugar candy indicates the sweetness of the happy event that the visitor has arrived to participate.

The East Indian weddings strictly adhere to the Vedic rules and regulations instructed. The states like West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam reflect the most important rituals and traditions of East Indian marriage. In the Hindu dharma, marriage is believed to be a sacrament of two souls and just an agreement between two humans. In the East Indian weddings, the rituals and traditions are thought to be the principle component of marriage. Marriage is a life-long commitment of a man to his wife and a woman to her husband. The east Indians strongly believe that Grahastha Ashram or the householder stage, the second of the four stages of life, as per the vedas, begins when a man and a woman enter the holy bond of matrimony to start a household. In case of East Indian marriages, the only way to continue the family and thereby repay his debt to his/her ancestors is marriage. East Indians believe that marriage is essentially a path towards spiritual growth. Man and woman are thought to be soul mates so that, through the foundation of marriage one can direct the energy of each other towards the development of their souls. The eastern states of India like West Bengal, Assam, Bihar or Orissa uphold the customs of marriage in this region.

The West Indian weddings reflect the collective culture of the Indian states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and so on. The culture of West India may be different but the wedding rituals are more or less similar to the rest of the nation. Indian marriages are one of the indispensable customs of the Indian society. The West Indian marriages are bound by the customs of western India. The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and others reflect their customs and traditions in these kinds of marriages. Arranging a marriage is the liability of Indian parents and other relatives of both bride and groom. In West India there is no greater event in a family than a wedding. In arranging and executing marriages, the complex combinations of Indian social systems best display themselves. Some parents begin marriage arrangements on the birth of a child, and solemnize them to some individual who can start living as husband wife after attaining the legal age. However, nowadays this practice is almost not into use and most of the families wait until later.

Apart from the various regional weddings of India the Arya Samaj Wedding is of prime importance in India. Shri Dayananad Saraswati had founded the Arya Samaj and the weddings in this community are held according to the Vedic rites. Arya Samaj holds weddings not only for Hindus but also for the non- Hindus. In order to be married according to the rituals of Arya Samaj one has to undergo the process of purification or Suddhi.

Hence it can be concluded saying that India witnesses different types of nuptial knots based both on religion and region but all forms of marriage render the spirit of celebration and happiness among members of the community.

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Baraat in Indian weddings

The baraat or wedding procession is the highlight of all Indian weddings. The baraat consists of different elements, which combine to give an extravagant feel to the wedding itself. The baraat usually consists of the groom’s friends and family members who accompany the groom to the wedding venue. The baraat is all about fun and excitement, as it moves singing and dancing to the beats of some popular Bollywood tunes. The groom and his horse are covered in finery, with the groom’s head adorned with a splendid turban and his face may be hidden behind a sehra or a floral veil, adding to the royal feel.

The main focus of the baraat is the groom who is traditionally mounted on either a white horse, a horse led carriage or in some cases, an elephant. In some cultures, the groom is accompanied by a younger sibling, called “sarbaala” who acts as his protector.Today most modern grooms prefer to travel in classic vintage cars which are decorated with flowers or ribbons.

A traditional baraat consists of a group of 12 or more musicians, called the brass band, who play a number of instruments and provide the typical baraat music. These men are usually dressed in striking shite or red uniforms. In some cases, the musical band is replaced by two or three dhol players and bhangra dancers who dance and perform stunts to the beat of the dhol. The entourage may be accompanied by light bearers who carry portable lamps on their head. A beautiful display of fireworks contributes to the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. The instruments commonly played in a traditional brass band are trumpets,trombones, tubas, clarinets, cymbals, tabla, base drum and saxophones. On reaching the venue, the baraatis are welcomed with garlands, a spray of rose water and refreshments. The groom is welcomed with an aarti and led to the mandap, where he will await his bride.

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Marriages and Social Media

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”- Martin Luther

Marriage is an evolving institution and the modern world through its pressures and pleasures has changed it irreversibly from the way it was even a decade ago. This change is particularly accelerated in urban India because of the rapid social and economic changes brought about by liberalization and globalization.
But traditions still hold sway and arranged marriages are still the norm, albeit through the Internet!
The basic problem in searching a good life partner for rich people in India is that they are so busy in their work that they do not have the time to find a suitable partner for themselves. Ultra Rich Match is a useful website for rich people to find a suitable life partner for himself\herself.

Someone said “marriages are made in heaven” – If that’s true then Internet is the new heaven. Some people would rather say that there was a time when marriages were made in heaven. Some may still say, for all we know Online matrimony is an emerging trend in our very society today.
An innovative online vertical that is unique to the Indian market has only just begun to explore its potential. For a large chunk of Indians, the system of arranged marriages has moved to the internet. The convenience and increased reach that is offered by the World Wide Web has made it an extremely popular tool for match making.
Only within the last 5 years the online matrimonial industry has grown to become a 50 million dollar sector. It is believed to be growing at the whopping rate of 50 – 70 % every year making it among the fastest growing internet sectors in the country.

Investors and venture capitalists around the country are extremely positive about the prospects of this industry. They see a great opportunity in matrimony portals to captivate the Indian youth because of its relevance to their lives.

Entrepreneurs and investors believe that online matrimonial websites are a sure-fire success story in India simply because of the fact that it caters to an extremely strong need of the Indian market in general. Browsing on wedding websites is considered to be among the top 10 activities undertaken by the youth in India, ranking among the likes of surfing on popular social networks and job portals.

Today, there are over 20 million registered Indians on marital websites. Now, considering the demographics there are over 450 million people in India that are considered of the marriageable age. In addition to this, there is the age old tradition of arranged marriages where it is the family members and the elders who play a vital role in deciding who the life partner will be. Indian Matrimonial websites make for a perfect substitute for this class of people who are now connected to the web and still belong to traditional beliefs. While the parents would typically be depending on marriage brokers and classified ads, the web offers a larger variety of platforms to search for along with easier options to categorize your search requirements to find your daughter or son the perfect match.

Considering the enhanced reach, extreme convenience and more privacy, online matrimonial portals are most definitely a preferred substitute to conventional sources to find brides and grooms. It is simple for anyone to simply log onto a website of their choice and register by uploading a bio-data with information of their choice. It offers user-friendly interfaces for youth as well as parents to conduct searches based on their preferences and initiative conversation with a click of a mouse.

This ideal blend between Indian traditional systems and modern technology has made it possible for Indian bachelors and spinsters around the world and explore and find themselves the perfect match for life.

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Get prepared for your wedding

So you’ve set a date and you’ve bought the dress now you’ve got the rest of the wedding to plan and prepare for. A wedding takes a lot of thought and can sometimes take a lot of work. Here’s a few helpful tips not on how to plan the wedding itself but how to prepare yourself for the wedding.

1. Prepare, plan and make notes. The most helpful item to any bride to be is a diary or notebook. Treat it like your wedding bible. Carry it with you everywhere you go, even when you are not doing something for the wedding, you never know when you may need to make a note or reminder for later. Use it in the beginning to write down notes and ideas as you discuss them with your fiancée and family so that you have a reference to look back on as the days fly by. As you get closer to your big day your memory will be over-flowing with things to remember and to do, use the book to make lists and that way you won’t forget anything!

2. Remember that there are two of you involved. Unless your fiancee has made it definitively clear that he doesn’t want to be involved with the details then keep him in the loop. It’s so easy to get swept away, especially with so many other people offering thousands of their thoughts and opinions, but always keep in mind that it’s not just your day. Exchange thoughts and agree on things together, you will be happy with the result as it keeps you close right up to the ‘I do’s’.

3. Take time to yourself. A wedding brings about so much excitement and love but sometimes it can knock you off your feet. Appreciate everyone’s help but also remember to make an effort to take time to one side for yourself as the bride to de-stress and rest but also make even more of an effort to set aside alone time for you and your husband-to-be. As you get closer to the day, your time will be divided endlessly between a thousand tasks and conversations, it is important that you stay connected with the man you’re about to marry.

4. Create a haven. Turn your home into a haven, no money or enormous effort is required. Just keep things simple, have candles around or perhaps music that soothes you ready on the stereo. You will need somewhere to go to when things are getting hectic, just go home, close the doors, turn off the phone and relax even if it’s just for half an hour, you will appreciate the space and the break. Most of all make sure that everyone is aware that closed doors or phones means quiet time for the bride and groom.

5. The most important of all, enjoy everything, even the stressful moments. It flies by so fast, no matter how far ahead you are planning. Soak everything up before it’s all over and done with. Embrace the madness, expect the unexpected and stay calm, as long as you are marrying the person that you want to then nothing else matters.

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Popular dishes in Indian Weddings

Indian Wedding Feasts
Indian wedding feasts are an integral part of celebration.

Food is an integral part of every special occasion in India and if it a marriage then the feasting is arranged in its extravagance. Indian weddings are mostly about fun, merrymaking and tradition. This merry making is incomplete without high-quality, lip-smacking food. Food is served in different styles in Indian weddings, mainly depending on the region the couple is from. India is a land of varied cultures and this has a direct impact on the food. For weddings, special food is prepared. One cannot enjoy the absolute experience of an Indian wedding without the majestic Indian wedding feasts.

Types of Wedding Feast
Festivals and feasts are the either side of the coin. Weddings are no less than festivals in India. The food that is served at the wedding depends to a great extent on the region the wedding is held in. Just like the rituals are kept in mind while Indian weddings, the kind of feast and its variety also depends on the culture and region, so does the food and its delicious dishes. For example, the food served in a Maharashtrian wedding comprises delicacies based on coconut gravy. The Indian Wedding Feast is different to the other ones in terms of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes depending on the traditions and ethnicity of the groom and the bride. The cooks use all their culinary skills to prepare these meals of gastronomical delight.

Special Features of Indian marriage feasts
At times, the wedding is marked on the basis of the standard, quality and taste of the food that was served. In early times, each guest was served individually, however, in today`s times the buffet system is quite popular at most of the weddings. However, it`s true that, one cannot enjoy the complete experience of an Indian wedding without the Indian Wedding Feast.

Indian marriages are vibrant affairs of fun and frolic. Good and quality food is a significant aspect of any wedding ceremony. As a rule, wedding cuisines usually reflect the religion and the environmental location people are hailing from. All the best dishes of that particular religion, cult or tribe are cooked to make the event memorable and lavish. Wedding Cuisines have changed a lot with the change of time. Continental dishes and multi-cultural cuisines and dishes have gained immense importance in present day`s wedding feasts.

Cuisines of wedding have changed a lot with the passage of time. Continental dishes have received immense popularity among today`s crowd. There are many catering services that serve yummy continental dishes for wedding parties and other events also. There is an elaborate wedding feast for all the family and friends who are invited. After the main day function is over there are various pre wedding rituals to be done and feasting plays a major role there too.

The moment people are invited for a wedding, they get excited and the first thing that comes to mind is about the relishing food they will perhaps have at the wedding. Wedding and good food has been inevitably associated since ages. Most guests pronounce a wedding to be good, if they had great food. Hence the wedding feast has to be given meticulous care and attention. As the catering bill constitutes one of the largest expenses of a wedding budget, the role of the wedding caterer is very important one during the marriage.

While deciding upon the caterer, one should always catch hold of the reputation. Verifying with people who have already hired that particular wedding caterer`s services should be done. Another important aspect to be noticed is the dinnerware being used by the caterer; they should not be chipped, scratched or worn out. The Indian food preparations include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that would be cherished by the all the guests attending the wedding party. Some of the popular food dishes of Indian wedding feasts-

Breads – Indian breads including the naan and kulcha are the more glamorous and scrumptious forms of the plain old chappatti that can be consumed with the spicy curries, tandoori chicken and other preparations that consist of gravy. Naan and Kulchas come in different flavors such as Garlic, Keema and Chicken Naan to name just a few.

Starters & Entrees – Indian weddings serve a variety of tempting starters and entrees, the very thought of which makes one`s mouth water. Samosas and pakoras are the most common ones. Kebabs such as Paneer Kebab, Boti Kebab, Barra Kebab and Seekh Kebab are actually barbequed chicken. Tandoori mushrooms, prawns and chicken are also some of the delectable appetizers.

Main Course in Indian Wedding feasts

Non-Vegetarian Preparations
Chicken and Lamb are the two prominent sections in the various main course food preparations. Chicken/Lamb Vindaloo cooked with vinegar, capsicum and spices is a famous Goan dish. The Murg Mumtaz is popularly known as butter chicken, Kadai Chicken, Shahi Korma, Bhuna Chicken, Rogan Josh, Chicken Korma and Chicken Tikka Masala that are the core of a typical Indian Feast.

Vegetarian Delights
Matar Paneer, Palak Panner, Sag and Shahi Paneer are the firm favorites for the vegetarians in a wedding feast. Subzi Bhaji, Ganga Jamuna Subzi, Stuffed tomato curry and Vegetable Kofta Curry are also some of the favorites of the guests. The Malai Kofta, Daal Makhani and Tadka Daal are also some delicacies to gorge on.

Rice Dishes
Rice has played conventionally a major part in Bengali weddings but now one can expect to come across rice dishes in all types of weddings. Some of the loved rice preparations are the Chicken/Lamb/ Shrimp Biryani, Mughlai Pulao and Kashmiri Pulao, the last one is a vegetarian dish.

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Bengali Wedding Rituals

Bengali weddings are a very loud affairs that include blowing of cunch shells and the sound of Ooli.

Bengalis take pride in being the intellectual community of India. The rituals of their rich and warm weddings bring out their intellectual dignity. One of the salient features of Bengali weddings is blowing of conch shell, which is also blown during any religious or holy ceremonies. Another pious sound is Ooli, made by women with their tongues and by beating the palms on the mouth. This is carried out throughout the ceremony. Symbolically it is meant for ensuring that everyone`s attention is drawn to main ceremony.

Costumes in Bengalee 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.

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.

Pre -Wedding Customs
The pre wedding rituals of the Bengali wedding marks the beginning of the grand wedding ceremony.

Aashirwad: Literal meaning of Aashirwad is blessings. This ritual is the conformation of marriage alliance that is performed few days prior to the wedding. This marks the beginning of the festivities. It can be conducted either at the groom`s or at the Bride`s house. 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.

Decoration: An alpana (rangoli) with designs like lotus plant, fish, which are considered as auspicious elements of the wedding, is drawn. Along with that small banana tree is placed at the entrance of the house. Under the tree a copper vessel called mangol ghot is placed .The door is decorated with a string of mango leaves which stays on for a period of one year after the Wedding ceremony.

Vridhi: This ceremony is about offering worship to the ancestors of Bride and Groom. All the samagri (items) for puja are arranged in `baran dola`(silver plate) with sign of `sri` made on it. The priest brings an idol of Bhagwan Narayan that is worshipped by lighting agarbattis (incense) and diyas (lamps). Paternal uncle generally performs the vridhi. According to their tradition the paternal uncle performing the puja has to be on liquid diet whole day.

Ai Buro Bhaat: The bride`s family gives a grand rich supper the night before the wedding at their home.

Wedding Piris: Piris are artistically designed and painted wooden planks usually done by a close relative. These are brought to the bride`s house the day prior to wedding day and are used to seat the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. During the wedding, conch shells are blown and ululation taken up.

Dhodhi Mangal: This ceremony is performed at both bride and groom`s houses at the crack of dawn. About ten married women accompany bride/groom to a nearby pond. They invite the Goddess Ganga for the wedding at return with a pitcher of water from pond to bathe bride/groom. Then they serve food to bride/groom, which consists of macher laija bhaja (fried fish) followed by jal dhana bhaja (rice cooked in water), curd and chiruya.

Haldi Uptan: In this ceremony the bride is made to sit in midst of four plantain trees, which are considered auspicious, kept at four corners of the room. The paste of turmeric mixed with mustard oil is applied to her body, which is symbolic of making bride`s skin glow. It is followed by Totto ceremony that consists of giving of gifts to the bride. The bride`s father side sends a whole raw fish to the bride along with other sweets, turmeric, saris and pumpkins.

Shakha Paula: 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.

Tattvas: Tattvas are gifts that are exchanged between the bride and groom`s family before and after the wedding. The gifts that are sent to bride`s house are called Gae hallud tattva and the ones sent to groom`s house are known as Adhibas Tattva.

Kubbi patta: A short ceremony to revere Saint Kuber in the houses of bride and groom. On the day of marriage, family members place three metal glasses filled to the brim with dhaan, khoi(pulses),and crushed rice at the altar of the Saint.

Snan: The snan takes place in the late afternoon or evening, the bride and groom must individually follow on the day of the wedding. A few married women apply turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride/groom. 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 napti (barber).

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.

Wedding Ceremony
The wedding day starts at 4.00 am for the bride. She bathes and gets dressed in a white sari with a red border. The significance of white being purity and chastity and red being purity. She wears all her jwellery and is made to eat a mixture of puffed rice, curd and sweets before dawn. The whole throughout the day she can only have sweets, water and sharbat. The men folk of the bride`s side perform a vridhi ceremony mid-morning in which they offer water to the souls of their ancestors to invoke their blessings.

The groom well dressed in Dhoti and Kurta, along with topor (paper and shoal conical hat) leaves the house with the permission of his mother to go and fetch her life partner. Mother gives the permission and feeds the groom sweet and glass of milk. The groom along with a relative or friend leaves the house to go to bride`s house. The decorated car is sent by the bride`s house and a relative of the bride comes to take the groom. The relatives and friends of groom usually leave after this. As per customs, groom`s mother stays back. The groom has to carry a darpan (mirror) all the time. 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.

Welcoming the Groom
The groom and his relative arrive at the bride`s house to the ringing bells, blowing of conch shells and ululation. The silver plate is held by an elder female relative of the bride and is touched from the groom`s forehead to the ground to back again on his forehead. This is done in gesture of part blessing and part reverence. Then he is offered sweets and sharbhat. Water is then sprinkled on the doorsteps as the groom enters the house to mark the auspicious moment. Both mother of the bride and the groom do not attend this ceremony, as it is believed that this will protect the couple from the `evil eye`.

The Bengali Wedding Ceremony
Both bride and groom meet with a ritual of exchanging garlands while the priest chants Mantras. Their hands are then joined with a sacred thread and couple is blessed in Sampradan ceremony. After the puja, the groom is given a fresh set of Dhoti and Kurta from the bride`s side. The groom has to change his dhoti-kurta and wear the new set and the ring. After this the bride is brought to the Mandap. The bride is usually carried in a piri and four of her friends carry her in the Mandap. She keeps her eyes hidden with a beetle leaf. She is rotated seven times around the groom. Once this is over, the bride and groom are placed face to face and the bride removes her beetle leaf. The bride and groom look at each other for the first time. This is known as Shubha-Drishti.

The couple is then seated on special piris (stools) in front of Agni (sacred fire) in the Yajna ceremony. This is followed by the traditional pheras. 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. Sindoor Daan – Most of the Hindu weddings involve fire offerings.

Bengali`s name the ceremony as Anjali. The groom takes the bride`s palms in his and the girl`s brother fills them with Khoi (popped rice) that is offered to the sacred fire. A traditional Bengali wedding gets completed with the Sindoor Daan. The bride covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom. He dips a ring into sindoor and traces a line of it from between the girl`s eyebrows through the parting in her hair. 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.

Post Wedding Ceremonies
The post wedding rituals of a Bengali wedding are also colorful. Manpan: The bride`s mother does oti bharane and gives saris to the groom`s mother, sisters/sister-in-laws. Bride`s father gives gifts to the groom`s father and brothers/brother-in-laws. Similarly, groom`s parents give gifts to the bride`s family.

Basar Ghar: The bride and groom are welcomed inside the bride`s home. Jokes and poetry recitals by friends and relatives keep the couple awake all through the night. However, for the Bengalis from East Bengal this ritual is not there. The bride and groom take rest for the night along with the other friends.

Bashi Biye: The next morning, the groom adorns the forehead of his bride with Vermillion. He does this by looking into a mirror. The newly-weds visits the mandap, and worship the Sun God in the presence of the priest.

Bidaai: This ceremony marks the departure of the bride and groom. The groom picks up the silver idol of parvati that is still sitting on gaurihar. The couple touches the feet of elders and the bride meets with all family members to bid a farewell. The couple sits in a vehicle and the procession, with a band and fireworks, goes to the groom`s place. Grihpravesh: The couple comes to the doorstep and the groom`s mother does aarti of the couple. The bride topples a measuring vessel filled with rice. It signifies that this bride will bring luck and prosperity. The couple sits and the groom places the silver idol of Parvati in a plate of rice and writes the bride`s new name. The groom`s mother sits between the couple and sees the bride`s face in the mirror – this is called soonmukh baghane. The couple gives sugar to all present and they have to take names in verses several times.

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