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Getting Married in Bangladesh

March 10, 2015

My lovely stylist, Sumi, is Bangladeshi and she was  telling me about bangladeshi weddings and how they differ from western weddings here in America. After seeing some amazing photos and learning more about the culture, I knew I had to share the beautiful ceremony customs with you all!

Bengali (short for Bangladeshi) culture is so rich in literature, festivals and art that it reflects in their wedding ceremonies. Bengali Muslim weddings have distinctive religious rituals that can span over several days (3-4 events). The traditional Bengali wedding is mostly four parts: Engagement, Gaya Holud, Wedding and the Reception. Usually the engagement takes place a few weeks or months before the wedding. There is a settlement called “mahr” which is a certain amount of money to be paid by the groom to the bride, and this is a religious requirement.

Sumi explained how fun it is to plan a traditional Bengali wedding. For each event, everyone gets to wear gorgeous traditional Bengali outfits and jewelry. What’s more, each wedding venue is decorated to th couples tastes.

A Bengali wedding starts with a very fun and colorful ceremony call “Gaya Holud”, which is Sumi’s favorite part of the wedding.  It’s a ceremony about coloring the body with turmeric paste and putting henna design on the hands and feet.  Mostly it takes place the day before the wedding. There is a separate turmeric ceremony for the bride and groom which take place at their residence with close family and friends.

For the bride’s part of the ceremony the groom’s family gives the bride the wedding dress, jewelry, and lots of sweets, and gifts for the bride’s mother and grandmothers (mostly sarees as a gift). Traditionally the bride wears a yellow and red colored saree for this ceremony, but the trend has changed now to red, yellow, green, pink, purple or any pretty bright color. The relatives of the bride and the groom wear matching cloths mostly yellow, orange, red, green. Sumi and I both agree that this is the ceremony where everyone has the most fun, as the muslim culture can be very reserved.

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Now finally the wedding day, the bride wears a gorgeous, beautiful saree as a wedding dress, and lots of beautiful gold jewelry. The typical color for a Bengali wedding would be red, but every bride now a day’s wants to look special and different, so they might choose something not so typical like orange, pink, lavender, maroon, or deep gold. The wedding ceremony is arranged by the bride’s family, and the groom’s family arrives later in the day. There are lots of jokes and pranks involved when the groom and his family arrives. Before the groom enters, the bride’s family (mostly the bride’s younger sibling, cousins, friends and younger relatives) barricade the entrance of the venue and demand money from the groom in order to come inside. There is a playful bargaining battle between the bride’s and groom’s family regarding the amount for the admission. This part of the ceremony is just for fun and mostly for the younger relatives and siblings.

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In a Bengali Muslim wedding, the bride and the groom sit in a separate room, and the Kazi (the person authorized by to government to perform the wedding) accompanied by the parents and witnesses from each side formally asks the bride for her consent of the union, and then the groom for his and both of them sign the formal papers. After the legal procedure, the bride and the groom are seated in the same room side by side. The bride’s veil is draped over the groom’s and a mirror is placed in front of them and the groom has to say something romantic because basically this is the first time he is seeing the bride in her bridal dress. They then  feed each other sweets. How SWEET is that?

The next step is the “Bou Bhaat” (reception), which is organized by the groom’s family. This is the only event of the wedding where the bride and the groom act as a couple and arrive at the reception together. They greet all the guesst together, and dine together as well.

The night of the wedding is called “ful shojja” (flower bed), where the marriage bed is decorated with lots of flowers hand-strung by the groom’s family. We all know what this night is about but in a Bengali Muslim wedding this should traditionally take place for the first time on the night of the wedding.

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So, there you have it. A wonderful, custom-filled bangladeshi wedding! I am so glad Sumi explained these exciting events, I cannot wait to attend a bengali muslim wedding now.

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