Kaalratri – a significant night in a Bengali marriage!
I had an arranged marriage. Though I had met my hubby before marriage, probably, there was a lot for me to know. He came from a joint family, and the first time I got to interact with them was through a wedding ritual.
An Indian marriage is not just one day of the ceremony, but a series of important day with their own significances. It is not just about binding two people but uniting two families in a long-term relationship. It is not just doing some rituals, but about believing that these will have a positive impact on the lives and well–being of the newlywed.
Enjoy this small Bengali wedding clip before you read on. Video Courtesy- Petrichor.
“As any other Indian girl, I also had a potpourri of emotions in my mind, when I was getting married. I prepared myself to face new people and a new life. After the tiring wedding day, I was looking for some rest, but still anxious about what will happen next. I was trying to figure out whom to reach out to, how to ask something at in-laws place. But, an entertaining and fun evening was waiting for me.”
Kaalratri is the night after the marriage day and before Bou-bhaat, the reception from the groom’s side. As per Indian mythology, Lakhindar, Behula’s husband got bitten by the serpent and died on that night after their marriage. So, the bride and the groom are forbidden to meet each other on this night. But, this isn’t some boring, regular night. Like ‘bashor ghor jaga’ at the bride’s house, it is full of fun and entertainment.
“For me, Kaalratri was a pleasant experience, when my husband’s cousins had planned an entertaining evening for me with games, music, dance and a lot of interactions. It was a great start though I was totally new and skeptical about the new environment. It turned out to be a pretty good one. Somehow it reminded me of the Bollywood style after-marriage sequences from Hum Aapke Hai Kaun or Hum Saath Saath Hain. Sounds silly, but relaxing.”
Keeping the ritualistic beliefs aside, I feel Kaalratri has more to it. It lays an important foundation for a new beginning.
A day to rest: Marriage ceremonies in India is not just a one-day affair. So, after the hectic marriage, which includes fasting, pujas, bridalwear, makeup etc., both the bride and the groom need to rest and rejuvenate themselves to enjoy the rest of the things. Kalratri is a good way to give the couple time to relax and freshen up.
An afternoon to prepare: A girl undergoes a lot of changes after marriage. She needs to prepare herself for her new life. She comes into a completely new environment and she needs time to understand and adjust. So, this day gives her that opportunity. This is not only true for the bride but the groom too, as he is also preparing for a new journey.
An evening to interact: This is also a great opportunity to interact with the in-laws and relatives. The bride gets to meet new people, socialize with them, and get accustomed to the guests. This is probably the first time, she actually gets to know the names and faces of many relatives. She can also get like-minded people to help her, make friends and enjoy some lighter moments of fun in the new house. It is a good way to relieve the stress, apprehensions or fear if any.
A night to accept: Finally, the night comes with a hope for a new day, a new beginning, a new ceremony (Bou-bhaat) and a new journey altogether. Both the bride and groom sleep separately. It is like the final moments of singlehood hood and they accept to start a new relationship, thereafter.
Many of our rituals and ceremonies seem irrelevant, unimportant or outdated, but the underlying intention might be something good. They have social, personal and psychological interpretations as well. For me, it was a ‘night to remember’, a fond memory of my marriage album.
The precious moments and memories of life like birth, marriage, relationship, etc. are beautiful, so enjoy every aspect of it, even if that means doing ‘just a silly ritual’, yes of course if ‘you believe in it’.
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