All about Bengali Women.

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Woman and Society

“When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.” – Bhagavad-Gita 1:40.

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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.

Wife

The Wife, according to a popular Sanskrit adage, is one :-

  • who renders advice like a minister,
  • obeys like a maidservant,
  • feeds like a mother,
  • pleases like the nymph Rambha,
  • acts as a veritable companion,
  • and has the forbearance of Mother Earth.

The Pativratya Ideal


The observance of the pativratya dharma by women is not tantamount to servility and subordination. Marital fidelity is greatly valued in the Hindu tradition as it leads to family harmony and bestows occult powers. A woman who sees the Lord in her husband and makes him her very life cannot deviate from the path of virtue; and virtue is power itself. There are many examples of Hindu women who as life partners made great sacrifices, underwent trials and tribulations, and some times showed their thaumaturgic powers born of chastity (satitva).

Gandhari covered her eyes with a strip of cloth as her husband Dhritarashtra, the king of Hastinapura, was blind.  Sita accompanied Rama to the forest during the days of his exile, kept her chastity intact while in the custody of Ravana, the king of Lanka, and went through the agni pariksa so that her husband could fulfil his raja dharma. Savitri confronted Yama, the god of death, and saved the life of her husband. Sati Anusaya turned the Hindu trinity of gods into children.

To uphold satitva demands profound moral and mental courage.  The allure of material riches, power or threat of political coercion are minor inconveniences, like flies to an elephant.

The Pativrata then, is not only a Dharma but a sublime and unique legacy of Bengali Culture. She is the embodiment of all the virtues associated with satitva, such as, purity, morality, fidelity, chastity, righteousness, goodness, duty, tolerance, service, devotion and many more. It is vital that these values are practiced, in order to inspire future generations and so preserve this noble tradition.

The gift of a girl

One of the most unusual forms of marriage, in world cultures, is the Indian idea of marriage-as-gift. Dan means, literally, “gift.” Kanya is a young girl, a virgin. The most sacred form of marriage for 2500 years in India and in Bengal has been kanyadan, “the gift of a girl.”

Ideal of marriage in Bengal

The idea behind the institution of marriage in Bengal is to foster, not self-interest, but love for the entire family. Practice of self-restraint is the ideal of marriage in Bengal. It is the love and duty cultivated for the entire family that prevents the break-ups.

Hindu Bengali Marriage ceromonies

Swagat & Introduction (Welcome)
Welcome and greetings are extended to the bridegroom, bride, family and friends.

Kanya Agaman (Arrival of the Bride)
The bridesmaids and the father escort the bride to the Mandap (nuptial canopy).

Jai Mala (Exchange of Garlands)
The priest guides the couple to the Mandap (nuptial canopy). Bride welcomes Groom with a floral garland and Groom garlands Bride. This exchange symbolizes formal acceptance and respect.

Prarthna Mantra (Prayer)
Chanting of the great Gayatri mantra to invoke the blessings of the supreme Lord.

Madhupak (Offerings)
Bride offers the mixture of honey and yogurt to the groom. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of eternal love and yogurt for the sake of his eternal good health and nutrition.

Aachman (Purification)
Sipping the water three times for the purification of the heart and body.

Agni Pradipan
Kindling of sacred fire. The wedding is made solemn before Agni (fire), the symbol of knowledge, power, and purity, as a principle witnesses to the ceremony.

Kanya Daan (Giving hand of bride)
The prime wealth of a Hindu household is the daughter (Kanya), who symbolizes the Hindu Goddess of Wealth (Lakshmi). Bride’s parents will place her hands into Groom’s and pour holy water over them to finalize the gesture of gift giving (transfer of wealth). Bride’s father requests Groom to accept his daughter as an equal partner in all walks of life. It is noted in Vedic scriptures that there is no “Daana” (gift) greater than Kanya Daan (giving a daughters hand in marriage). Groom promises to accept Bride as his equal life partner.

Jaya Home (Offerings)
Offerings in to sacred tire emphasize the couples’ joint responsibility in maintaining the love and dignity of their union.

Paani Graham (Accepting the Hand)
The bridegroom holds the hand of the bride and both of them solemnly pledge before God that they have become one and will forever love each other and remain mutually devoted for the remainder of their lives.
Pledges (Exchange of vows)
The priest reads the solemn union declaration. The bride and bridegroom exchange the holy marriage vows.
Groom: I take your hand in mine, for the attainment of prosperity and offspring. May you enjoy long life and happiness with me. By the grace of God and blessings o fall assembled, you have become my life partner and wife. You are my lawful wife and I am your lawful husband.
Bride: I take your hand in mine in pursuit of righteousness for the benefit of both our families. I will stand by you. May we be provided with prosperity and offspring and may I keep you splendidly radiant as the rays of the sun.

Mangal Phera
Bride’s brother puts rice in the hands of Bride & Groom to offer to Agni (the Lord of Fire) who dispels darkness and ignorance while leading into light and knowledge. The couple then walks around the sacred fire. Each round represents the four basic goals of human life:
Dharma, Artha, Kama , Moksha

Shila Rohan
A rock is placed in the north east comer of the Mandap. While Bride places her right foot on the piece of rock, Groom recites a hymn the Ashma Bhava. The statement is to encourage his wife to be as strong as the rock, to be firm towards any difficulties of life they may face together. Rice and flowers are sprinkled on the couple by her parents, relatives and friends.

Saptapadi (Seven steps)

The bride and groom take seven steps forward together, symbolizing the beginning of their journey through life.
These steps signify the guiding principles of life.
Each of these steps represents the vows made by the couple:
1. Together we will love, cherish and respect one another from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health … forever.
2. Together we will create a home full of joy and laughter, where we find serenity and strength.
3. Together we will share a steadily deepening love, which grows in understanding and unselfishness.
4. Together we will embrace each other’s family as well as our own yet to come. Let us have a measure of patience and forgive with grace.
5. Together we will develop a sense of value that we may care for people more than possessions, for honor more than honors, and for the dimensions of a home more than the details of a house.
6. Let us forever be best friends and partners, share each other’s ideas and ideals. The couple is now united and will pray for the blessings from God. The father-in-law offers the bride a sacred necklace.

Sindhoor Daan
The bridegroom puts Sindhoor (Red Powder) in the parting of the bride’s hair and welcomes her into his life as his eternal partner. The newly wedded couple touches the feet and takes blessings from the parents of both families.

Akhand Subhagyavati
Married women from the bride’s family come forth to wish her eternal happiness.

Aashirvaad
All guests and relatives recite a hymn with the priest to wish the couple good luck, prosperity and a long, happy married life together.

Shanti Path
Hymn of peace