ICT Engineering – Gediminas

Practical placement in Kolkata, India

Attending a Bengali wedding

A Bengali wedding entrance

♫ “Love and marriage, love and marriage,
It’s an institute you can’t disparage. ” ♫

I was lucky enough to enrich my cultural experience of India by getting invited to attend the weddings of two of my co-workers. Even though we couldn’t stay for the rituals, I was happy that I got to see the traditional wedding clothes that people wear, the places where the ceremony was to be held and best of all to taste the delicious food that was served for the guests.

We had to visit two weddings today and it was decided that we go to the further one first and then proceed to the one closer to Kolkata.

In the first location the bride looked like this:

Bengali Bride

“Personally, I would prefer an Iron Throne.”

And the groom looked like this:

Bengali Groom

“Unfortunately, not wearing his hat at the time.”

And before the ceremony they just sit there and receive blessings, gifts and get their pictures taken with and/or by the guests. Gifts are mostly envelopes with money and I had put my share into the envelope which was a gift from the people of our office to the bride.

The place where the actual ritual was supposed to happen looked like this:

A place for a Bengali wedding ritual

“Flower petals made out of flower petals.”

All I really knew about the ceremony was that it would involve the groom and the bride walking around the small tree in the center seven times seven times (in Hindu weddings there’s a holy fire). We didn’t get to see it, because the groom and the bride were waiting for the right time start it, it would last several hours and we had another wedding to attend. So in the end, after blessing the bride and giving her the gift we went for the guest dinner (and boy was it good).

A menu at a Bengali wedding

“I think I’ll have…….”

The menu wasn’t a problem, because waiters would come by with a huge bowl and ask you if you want some of the things that were in it. Of course, I had to try everything they had for vegetarians:

It started out nice, but then as the servings kept coming I couldn’t take pictures with my greasy hands and I can only show you how it ended:

Some juice + ice-cream + a bowl for washing your hand + Pan

Some juice + ice-cream + a bowl for washing your hand + Paan

I couldn’t tell you what the juice was from even if my life depended on it, but it was both sour and salty. Also, this was the first time I tried Paan (on the lower right side) which is made from some herbs and spices wrapped in a leaf. My co-workers said that on the street people sell this with tobacco inside and is the main cause of people spitting on the ground everywhere.

After the dinner I realized that it was a bad idea to try everything, because I was totally full with food from different food groups and there was another dinner that we were supposed to attend.

We arrived at the second wedding just in time to see the greeting of the groom:

Bengali groom

“That hat is good for keeping someone single…”

Indians have a joke about weddings, which says that the divorce in India is very low, because no man would want to go through all of the wedding rituals a second time.

The bride looked like this:

Bengali bride

“The little girls’ expression – priceless.”

And in this place the ceremonial place was more humble:

A place for a Bengali wedding ritual

“I didn’t even get to know who sits where…”

Again, after the gift and the blessings, we went for the guest dinner:

A menu at a Bengali Wedding

“Now this is a menu I can read.”

This time, it was a little embarrassing to say no to so many things, but we had to, because we were full from the previous dinner (but of course you can’t tell that to the waiters). And even though my eating hand was greasy I realized that I could take an upside-down picture with my other hand and then just flip it:

Paneer + Chop + Rice Polao with cashews and raisins

Paneer + Chop + Polao with cashews and raisins

And just in case you were wondering how the inside of a Chop (which I reviewed some time ago) looked like:

The inside of a Chop

The inside of a Chop

Having two, three-course dinners, on the same day, ultimately was a bad idea, because I was so full I had trouble falling asleep and I didn’t want breakfast.

So there you have it, a Bengali wedding from a time-constrained visitors’ perspective is mostly like attending a dinner party. The wedding clothes looked fabulous, the food was delicious, but I guess I’ll have to attend some other wedding to see the rituals.

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