#Opinion

Seven Problematic Bengali Wedding Rituals We Should Get Rid Of

Bengali Wedding Rituals
Being a Bengali, I have attended grand wedding ceremonies with elaborate rituals. As a child, I never understood the underlying meaning of many of these Bengali wedding rituals.

I was interested in dressing up, enjoying the food and having fun. But as a grown-up I find several Bengali wedding rituals  problematic. Recently I found that many on the internet also agree with me.

See the post on regressive Bengali wedding rituals by SheThePeople Bangla here.

Seven Bengali wedding rituals we must do away with right now

1. Kanyadaan

Just like all Hindu weddings, Bengali weddings too have the ritual of Kanyadaan where the bride’s father “gives away” his daughter to the groom. Not only that, the father literally holds the groom’s feet and “begs” him to take his daughter. Why do we still treat women as a “property” to be “given as an endowment”?

2. Kanakanjali

Before leaving her maternal home, the bride is supposed to throw rice over her head towards her mother and say, “Ami tomar shob reen shodh korlam (I repay all your debts).” Is it possible for us to ever repay our parents, that too with a few rice grains? This ritual simply justifies the paraya dhan ideology that once married, daughters are seen as “belonging to a different family”. So they are expected to “clear all debts” and move on. What even!

3. Finding the ring

Here comes a “game” the bride and the groom “play” after their wedding. They are offered a bowl of aalta-colured water filled with flower petals, coins and a gold ring. The couple is asked to look for the ring in the bowl and the one who finds it, gets to keep it. However, this ritual doesn’t end here. The winner gets the opportunity to make their spouse “obey their commands”. Isn’t marriage supposed to be about equal partnership?

4. The groom’s mother cannot attend the wedding

The presence of the groom’s mother at the wedding ceremony is considered “inauspicious”. It is believed that her presence will have an “evil effect” on the newly-married couple. On the one hand, we glorify motherhood and the sacrifices mothers make for her children on the other we consider them as “ominous”. Not only is it disrespectful but also shows how hypocritic we can get.

5. Bhaat Kapor

How can there be a list of problematic Bengali wedding rituals without this! A grand ceremony is organised a day after the wedding where the groom hands over a plate of rice and other delicacies to the bride along with a saree. He then utters the words, “Aaj theke aami tomar bhaat kapor er dayitto nilam (I take the responsibility to feed and clothe you).” Now that women are becoming financially independent and taking responsibilities, do they need their husbands’ to take charge of food and clothing?

6. Shell and rice tricks

This is another regressive ritual in the garb of a “game”. Here, five little earthen pots are filled with turmeric, rice and shells are placed before them. Then, the bride is asked to topple the pots and the groom is asked to rearrange the contents neatly. Both of them repeat it alternatively. Whoever rearranges the contents in a better way is pronounced the winner. The one who picks all the grains of rice and puts them back neatly will be able to “organise the family better”.

Isn’t it the responsibility of both the bride and the groom to manage their family equally? Why should the duty fall on one person alone?

7. The headgear war

In this ritual, a big bowl of water is moved in a circular motion. Then the tips of the bride and groom’s headgears are broken and placed on the water softly. Whichever object follows the other, signifies who will follow whom in their marital life. Why should we promote marriages where the bride and the groom must “follow” each other? We forget that they are both individuals and should have independent lives instead of simply “following” the other person.

Suggested readings:

9 Wedding Rituals For Brides We Need To Get Rid Off

Viral Video: Groom Touches Bride’s Feet After Wedding, Netizens Bless The Couple

6 Sexist Punjabi Wedding Rituals We Should Change NOW!