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East India Bengali Brahmin
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RitualsMarriages in Mughal royalty were marked with utmost grandeur and lots of happiness combined with merrymaking. They were lavish celebrations and the entire responsibility of putting in place feasts and matrimonial protocols were on the shoulders of royal ladies. When a marriage was confirmed, betel (paan) leaves were given as a symbol of acceptance of the proposal by the elders of the bride’s family. Then the sacnaq or the first wedding gift was sent to the bride’s home on behalf of the bridegroom, this can also be referred to as the mangni ceremony. Followed by the manjha ceremony, here the Mughal bride wore a bright yellow and gold lehenga while female relatives applied turmeric powder (haldi) on her. The haldi makes the bride’s skin glow. After this ceremony, the bride stayed at home till her wedding day. The next ceremony was the hennabandi or what is popularly called as the ‘mehandi’ ceremony in which henna was applied on the bridegroom’s hands and feet by the harem ladies. On the bride’s side, henna was applied on the bride’s hands and feet with floral, peacock, and mango patterns most importantly. This was followed by the day of the actual wedding where princes and nobles went to the groom’s place to offer wedding presents. After a a magnificent wedding procession was taken out where the groom mostly mounted an elephant and was followed by important men on either foot or decorated horses till the procession arrived at the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience). Here the mughal emperor himself tied on the groom’s forehead a sehra made of strands of pearls and gems, after which the procession proceeded to the bride’s place where they were genially received. At a pre-decided auspicious hour the nikah (muslim marriage) was performed by the Qazi (priest) in the presence of the emperor. After the completion of nikah gold and silver coins and gems were showered on the newly wedded couple. The marriage festivities continued for a month mostly.