Hindu weddings are ceremonial feasts laden with symbolic rites and rituals. Despite India's diversities in language, culture, food and lifestyle, one can observe common threads in many Hindu weddings across the nation. The East Indian wedding traditions mainly include the marriage traditions of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and other northeastern states of India.
Bengali wedding ceremonies consist of simple but meaningful rituals. There are plenty of interesting Bengali wedding traditions and customs, which enable close friends and relatives to come together and share joyous moments while celebrating the union of two souls.
When the marriage procession of the groom arrives at the entrance of the bride's residence, all of them are given a hearty welcome with fresh flowers. The Baran Dala is touched to the groom's forehead by an elderly female relative of the bride, and then to the ground. This gesture stands for a portion of blessing. Then, the groom is offered sweets and sherbet. As the groom gets into the bride's house or wedding venue, rosewater is sprinkled on him. The Shubho Drishti ritual is performed when the bride and groom first look at each other.
The Mala Badal ceremony is the exchange of flower garlands between the bride and groom along with the chants of mantras. As a part of Saat Paak ritual, the bride has to sit on a low wooden stool called Pidi that is lifted by her brothers. Then, the girl is taken around the groom seven times in circles, which symbolizes their union. During the Sampradhan ritual, the bride's responsibility is given to the groom by her paternal or maternal uncle. After this, the Saptapadi ritual takes place.
The Basar Ghar ceremony is a custom in which the newly weds are given a warm welcome in the bride's house and are served a delectable dinner. During the Bashi Biye ritual, the next morning after the wedding, the groom applies vermilion on his wife's forehead. Then the newly married couple visits the Mandap, and worship the Sun God.
During the Bidaai Ceremony the newly weds leave for their home, after being blessed by all the elders. The Bou Baran ritual is performed to give an affectionate welcome to the newly weds in the groom's house. The wife of the groom's elder brother carries a plate containing Alta and milk and places it under the bride's feet. The bride then has to enter the house escorted by her sister-in-law. The imprints of her feet on the floor of the house are preserved for a while. She also receives blessings by all the members of the house. In the Bou Bhat ceremony, the bride serves the members of the house and eats her first meal in her husband's house. A reception party hosted by the groom's family mostly takes place in the evening.
Assamese wedding ceremony is simple but chic at the same time. The melody of the gentle wedding song 'biya naam" features the exclusivity of the wedding. The wedding day begins with the performance of the Bathing custom. The bride and groom's mother visit the nearby river with a vessel and collect holy water. This water is afterwards used for the ceremonial bath of the bride and groom, which takes place in their respective houses.
In the Assamese community, the wedding reception party is held before the marriage ceremony when delicious food is served to the guests. Fish and meat are the main food items of the wedding reception menu. After the arrival of the groom, the bride's family indulges in fun time activities. The bridegroom's marriage procession is not allowed to enter the bride's home, until they pay a large sum of money.
During the wedding ceremony the bride's mother welcomes her future son-in-law and the bride's younger sister washes the groom's feet. Then, the bride's brother lifts him up and takes him to the marriage hall. In a traditional Assamese wedding, the bridegroom dresses up in dhoti and kurta, with a silk shawl wrapped crosswise on his shoulder. The bride is given Panch-Amrit that is a mixture of ghee, curd, sugar, honey and raw milk to eat. Then the bride makes a grand entry on the shoulders of her maternal uncles.
The wedding ceremony takes place in front of the holy fire. The couple exchanges their flower garlands and takes vows amid the chanting of mantras. Conch shells are blown which mark the celebration. The bridegroom applies vermillion on his wife's forehead. Afterwards the friends and relatives bless the newly weds. The newly married couple then goes to their house, where they are received warmly and the bridegroom's mother performs the traditional Aarti.
Oriya wedding ceremonies are relatively the same as other Hindu weddings, with some minor difference in the customs and traditions. An exceptional feature about the Oriya wedding ceremony is that the mother of the bridegroom does not take part in it. During the Kanya Daan ceremony, the bride's father gives his daughter's hand to the bridegroom and he in turn promises that he will take care of her. In the Haatha Ghanti Custom the bride and the groom take seven rounds around the sacred fire, along with the chant of mantras and shlokas.