J = Jaimala

Jaimala refers to the ritual of garland exchange between the bride and the groom and is usually the first ritual of the wedding. On the day of the wedding, this is the first time the bride and groom come face to face and thereafter, all rituals are done together as a unit.This custom may also be taken as a symbolic acceptance of the other as the life partner. Many weddings have elaborate jaimala functions, such as one showed here.

In Bengali weddings, this particular custom is a bit more elaborate and complicated. The bride sits on a low wooden stool (pidi) hiding her face behind betel leaves as described earlier wherein she is taken around the groom seven times before exchanging the first glance with him. After all this, comes the Mala bodol or literally ‘garland exchange’.

This garlanding of each other happens thrice, at least one of which is crisscrossed – that is garlanding the groom through the circle of his arms while he does so while encircling her arms. Of course, again amidst much cheering and gaiety. I am not quite sure if this has any religious symbolism or it is just to tease the bride and groom not to mention the brothers who, by the way, are still holding the bride up on the pidi while the groom is egged on by his friends and family to avoid the noose! It’s quite a fun-filled chaotic moment – one where I almost fell off the pidi. I remember scrabbling and scrambling for balance. Come to think of it, I still am! 😀

Quote for the day: I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. Rita Rudner

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