Customs and Traditions: Marriage ceremony in different religion
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS :
Bangladesh has its customs and traditions - some rooted in its prehistory and others, relatively recent. The indigenous customs, being an integral part of the life cycle of the people, have a universal appeal. Bangladesh has been predominantly agricultural ever since man came here and started domesticating animals and practicing rudimentary forms of tillage. The indigenous customs have, therefore, grown round agricultural practices.
Marriage in a religion of Islam : In Bangladesh, most marriages are arranged by parents, guardians or kin members. It is an occasion marked by ceremony, gaiety and joy and is not confined to the single day of wedding but is spread out over a number of days.
The legal age of marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men. Most parents start worrying about their daughter's marriage after she reaches puberty and start looking for a groom. Once a man starts working and earning his way his mother may start dropping hints to him by saying, "I am getting old and can't manage all the housework by myself, it's time I had a pair of helping hands". Thus, once it is time to get married (whether man or woman) parents, relatives, neighbours and friends begin to look for a "suitable spouse". In the case of men, `goodness' is determined by whether he is established (in work/profession), hardworking and has good moral character, in the case of women, stress is laid on beauty (generally meaning a fair complexion), modesty, obedience and whether well-versed in household skills. The matchmaker who identifies the prospective bride and groom and carries the news to the other interested houshold is called `ghatok' and he/she, who performs the task of ghatkali (mediation), is accorded special and privileged status. After preliminary contacts have been established, the ghatok and some relatives of the groom go over to the bride's house on an appointed day to see the bride.
Among the Muslims, the proposal is officially made by the groom's side to the bride's side on the day of `paka kotha' (meaning final/concrete word). The other details like the date of marriage, amount of mohr (marriage settlement payable to the bride, obligatory among Muslims), transactions, gifts, dowry, number of guests, etc, are also spelt out. Token gifts are given by the groom's side on this occasion and after the deliberations are over, food is served. Generally, two days prior to the wedding, the `gaye holud' ceremony is held at the bride's house. Women and children from the groom's side come to the bride's place laden with gifts - sari, fish and sweets. The bride is seated on a `pati' (mat) and a preparation of turmeric and herbs is applied to her face, hands and all over by the women from the groom's side, and later women of her own household. The turmeric preparation is applied for beautification and all women, including the bride, wear yellow saris (the colour of turmeric) with red borders. Special gaye holud songs are sung and food accompanies the merriment. The next day, that is, on the eve of the wedding a similar gaye holud ceremony is held at the groom's place, and women from the bride's side go over and apply holud to the groom. After the holud ceremony is over, the groom takes a bath, where his mother is symbolically the first one to pour water over him.
Among the Muslims, the wedding generally takes place at the bride's house. The groom, accompanied by relatives and friends goes to the bride's house. He is dressed in traditional white clothes, ideally sherwani (long coat), pajama (loose trousers) and pagri (head-dress). He is seated in a room decorated for the occasion. All the men of the wedding party are seated there while the women go inside and hand over the gifts they have brought for the bride-sari, jewellery, cosmetics. The bride is then dressed. The actual marriage takes place when the Moulvi first asks the groom for his consent and then the bride for her's (they are still seated in separate rooms). This is entered in a legal document by the Marriage Registrar. A prayer is then read out and the couple ire wedded to each other. The food is then served to the guests - polau (sweetened fried rice), meat and sweets. After the feast, the groom is escorted to the room where the bride is seated-dressed up in flaming red sari and gold jewellery with floral henna patterns on her palms and hands. The two sit side by side but do not look at each other. Among jokes, laughter and merriment, a `dopatta' (thin gauze like long scarf) is placed over their heads and a mirror is handed to the groom, in which he sees the bride. This is called `shah nazar' (literally means the royal glance); the groom is then traditionally asked, cunningly, to say what he saw, and out comes the reply, "the moon". The bride and groom then exchange garlands. The groom is now given `sherbet' (sweet drink of milk and nuts) which he drinks a little and passes the rest on to the bride to drink. Sweets are also served which the bride and the groom eat off each other's hand. Amidst all this, the groom is teased mercilessly, led by the bride's younger sisters. The fun and laughter come to an end when it is time to leave. The groom and the sobbing bride are led out of the house; the Quran (the Holy Book) is held over their heads as they step out. The bride clings to her parents who are wet-eyed and give her all their blessings. The groom's party leaves with newly-wed couple.
The feast at the groom's house is held a few days later. The bride's side come over and they are given a warm welcome. This feast is called 'bou bhat' (literally, bride's feast) because traditionally the 'bou' cooks one or two items of food and serves. After the feast is over, the newly-weds return with the bride's side to her parental home and stay for a few days until they finally return to the groom's house and settle down.
Marriage in Hindu religion : Among the Hindus, after marriage negotiations have been finalized a ceremony called 'ashirbad' (blessings) or 'mongol acharon' is held at the bride's house. The groom's side takes gifts of sari, fish, turmeric, betel leaf and nuts and a gold ornament. The bride is dressed in the new sari and seated on a 'piri' (low wooden stool). The groom's father helps her put on the ornament. A similar ceremony is held at the groom's house; most of the dowry ornaments, which the bride's parents are giving the groom, are taken over on that day.
The time and date of marriage are fixed after a scrutiny of the positions of the stars. The marriage takes place at the bride's house. The groom's arrival is announced by the blowing of conch shells. He is seated on a special chair placed on a dais. The bride enters and performs the `shaat paak' ritual, circling around seven times, interrupting each circle with a `nomoshkaar' (salutation) to the groom. After that the groom rises and exchanges garlands with the bride. They then look at each other (shubho drishti) for the first time. Stepping down from the dais, the bride, the groom, her father and priest sit around a fire and after recitation of `mantras' is over the bride's father places
her palm in the palm of the groom, symbolizing the giving away of his daughter as a gift to the groom (shomprodan).
The next day is 'bashi biye'. The couple are seated, in a courtyard, under the open sky, on pins and they pour water over each other. After changing into dry clothes, the groom places 'shindur' (vermilion, symbol of marriage) in the bride's hair-parting, not directly, but by seeing her reflection in the mirror. The bride and groom are welcomed on their arrival to the groom's house by his mother. The bride dips her feet in a mixture of milk and 'alta' (red powder) and walks over a white and red bordered sari into the house; the red impression that her feet level on the sari symbolizes the entrance of goddess Lakshmi into the house. The bride's parents and kins come over for bou bhat and the bride is expected to cook at least one or two dishes and serve to the guests. On the 'phool shojja' night (bridal night), the room and the marital bed are decorated with flowers.
Marriage in Christian religion : The Christian marriage takes place at the church. Prior to the wedding, the man and woman accompanied by relatives go to the church and let the priest know that they would like to be married. The Father then puts up the banns in a public place. If no objections are entered then a marriage certificate is issued and the date of marriage fixed. On the eve of the wedding, a ceremony called `ga dhowani' (literally meaning washing of the body) takes place at the bride's place. The bride and her mother fast the whole day. The women of the groom's side come with gifts of sari, betel nuts and sweets. The bride is dressed in sari and her hands and feet are washed with water. At the groom's house there is more merriment and singing, dancing and drinking take place. On the wedding day, the groom's party go to the bride's house with gifts of clothing, jewelry etc. The bride puts on the sari and the veil, and leaves home for the church. At the church the Father recites Biblical hymns, the couple exchange vows and rings. The newly wedded couple then go to the groom's house where they are warmly received by the groom's mother. Feast, fun and merriment follow. The next day is the feast of the parents-in-law where the bride's parents and relatives come to the groom's house. After a few days, another feast is held at the bride's parental home where the newly wed couple and relatives and friends go over.
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