All about Bengali Women.

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


There is nothing which has a more abiding influence on the happiness
of a family than the preservation of equable and cheerful temper and
tones in the housekeeper. A woman who is habitually gentle,
sympathizing, forbearing, and cheerful, carries an atmosphere about
her which imparts a soothing and sustaining influence, and renders it
easier for all to do right, under her administration, than in any other
There are families where the mother’s presence seemed the
sunshine of the circle around her; imparting a cheering and vivifying
power, scarcely realized till it was withdrawn. Every one, without
thinking of it, or knowing why it was so, experienced a peaceful and
invigorating influence as soon as he entered the sphere illumined by
her smile, and sustained by her cheering kindness and sympathy. On the
contrary, many a good housekeeper, (good in every respect but this,)
by wearing a countenance of anxiety and dissatisfaction, and by
indulging in the frequent use of sharp and reprehensive tones, more
than destroys all the comfort which otherwise would result from her
system, neatness, and economy.


Every young girl should be taught to do the following kinds of stitch
with propriety: Over-stitch, hemming, running, felling, stitching,
back-stitch and run, buttonhole-stitch, chain-stitch, whipping, darning,
gathering, and cross-stitch.

In doing over-stitch, the edges should always be first fitted, either
with pins or basting, to prevent puckering. In turning wide hems, a
paper measure should be used, to make them even. Tucks, also, should
be regulated by a paper measure. A fell should be turned, before the
edges are put together, and the seam should be over-sewed before
felling. All biased or goring seams should be felled, for stitching,
draw a thread, and take up two or three threads at a stitch.

In cutting buttonholes, it is best to have a pair of scissors, made
for the purpose, which cut very neatly. For broadcloth, a chisel and
board are better. The best stitch is made by putting in the needle,
and then turning the thread round it near the eye. This is better than
to draw the needle through, and then take up a loop. A stay thread
should first be put across each side of the buttonhole, and also a bar
at each end before working it. In working the buttonhole, keep the
stay thread as far from the edge as possible. A small bar should be
worked at each end.

Whipping is done better by sewing _over_, and not under. The roll
should be as fine as possible, the stitches short, the thread strong,
and in sewing, every gather should be taken up.

The rule for _gathering_ in shirts is, to draw a thread, and then take
up two threads and skip four. In _darning_, after the perpendicular
threads are run, the crossing threads should interlace exactly, taking
one thread and leaving one, like woven threads. It is better to run a
fine thread around a hole and draw it together, and then darn across it.

The neatest sewers always fit and baste their work before sewing; and
they say they always save time in the end by so doing, as they never
have to pick out work on account of mistakes.

It is wise to sew closely and tightly all new garments which will never
be altered in shape; but some are more nice than wise, in sewing frocks
and old garments in the same style. However, this is the least common
extreme. It is much more frequently the case that articles which ought
to be strongly and neatly made are sewed so that a nice sewer would
rather pick out the threads and sew over again than to be annoyed with
the sight of grinning stitches, and vexed with constant rips.

If the thread kinks in sewing, break it off and begin at the other
end. In using spool-cotton, thread the needle with the end which comes
off first, and not the end where you break it off. This often prevents

_Work-baskets_.–It is very important to neatness, comfort, and
success in sewing, that a lady’s work-basket should be properly fitted
up. The following articles are needful to the mistress of a family:
a large basket to hold work; having in it fastened a smaller basket
or box, containing a needle-book in which are needles of every size,
both blunts and sharps, with a larger number of those sizes most used;
also small and large darning-needles, for woolen, cotton, and silk;
two tape needles, large and small; nice scissors for fine work,
button-hole scissors; an emery bag; two balls of white and yellow wax;
and two thimbles, in case one should be mislaid. When a person is
troubled with damp fingers, a lump of soft chalk in a paper is useful
to rub on the ends of the fingers.

Besides this box, keep in the basket common scissors; small shears;
a bag containing tapes of all colors and sizes, done up in rolls; bags,
one containing spools of white and another of colored cotton thread,
and another for silks wound on spools or papers; a box or bag for nice
buttons, and another for more common ones; a hag containing silk braid,
welting cords, and galloon binding. Small rolls of pieces of white and
brown linen and cotton are also often needed. A brick pin-cushion is
a great convenience in sewing, and better than screw cushions. It is
made by covering half a brick with cloth, putting a cushion on the
top, and covering it tastefully. It is very useful to hold pins and
needles while sewing, and to fasten long seams when basting and sewing.


There is no practice which has been more extensively eulogized in all
ages than early rising.

 This practice, which may justly be called a domestic virtue.

The reasons which make early raising imperative for Bengali Women are:-

The first relates to the health of a family. It is a universal law of
physiology, that all living things flourish best in the light.
Vegetables, in a dark cellar, grow pale and spindling. Children brought
up in mines are always wan and stunted, while men become pale and
cadaverous who live under ground. This indicates the folly of losing
the genial influence which the light of day produces on all animated

Another reason for early rising is, that it is indispensable to a
systematic and well-regulated family. At whatever hour the parents
retire, children and domestics, wearied by play or labor, must retire
early. Children usually awake with the dawn of light, and commence
their play, while domestics usually prefer the freshness of morning
for their labors. If, then, the parents rise at a late hour, they
either induce a habit of protracting sleep in their children and
domestics, or else the family are up, and at their pursuits, while
their supervisors are in bed.

Any woman who asserts that her children and domestics, in the first
hours of day, when their spirits are freshest, will be as well regulated
without her presence as with it, confesses that which surely is little
for her credit. It is believed that any candid woman, whatever may be
her excuse for late rising, will concede that if she could rise early
it would be for the advantage of her family. A late breakfast puts
back the work, through the whole day, for every member of a family;
and if the parents thus occasion the loss of an hour or two to each
individual who, but for their delay in the morning, would be usefully
employed, they alone are responsible for all this waste of time.

Daily Duties-Pancha Yagna

These are the minimal practices which guide a person in everyday life and ensure peace, material and spiritual prosperity.

  • Worship God (Deva Yagna) in the form of a family deity (Ishta Devata) in the home shrine through prayers and meditations.¬† Tradition says that “a family that prays together stays together.”
  • Study Vedas and other scriptures (Brahma Yagna). This practice refreshes one’s mind with sacred knowledge and also helps to preserve and enrich such knowledge.
  • Contemplate on the teachings of the sages, saints, holy men and women, and one’s forefathers (Pitri Yagna). This practice is intended to serve as a reminder to preserve, enrich and continue one’s cultural heritage and family values.
  • Bhuta Yagna:- This practice is intended to create the spirit of sharing with others.
  • Nara Yagna:- This practice is the basis for the traditional hospitality of Hindu households.

The Bengali joint family

The Bengali joint or extended family, usually consisting of three of four generations living together. The women collectively cook and share domestic responsibilities, and the men provide the pooled income. Elders take important decisions and, based on their own experience in life, offer guidance to younger members.