In Bengalis, there is a unique custom of exchanging gifts or tatwo, between the groom’s and the bride’s families. Tatwo comprises of various articles of clothing, cosmetics, jewelry accessories and sweets for the bride and groom as well as their family members. Tatwo arrives from the groom’s side to the bride’s house on the morning of the wedding along with the turmeric paste for the haldi ceremony. Tatwo from the groom’s side includes saris (and other accessories) for the bride along with gifts for her close relatives (mostly saris), sweets, mishti doi (sweet curd) and a whole fish 😉 Tatwo from the bride’s family is sent to the groom’s house on the day of her bou-bhat or wedding reception.
The beauty and uniqueness of this custom is in the way the gifts are presented. Each of the gifts are artistically decorated and presented on trays and wrapped in cellophane paper and put up for display. These days, professionals are available to prepare the tatwo but usually it is the members of the family who chip in with their creative skills and vie with the other side to show off their skill sets and artistic talents. Even sweets are not spared – although these are professionally done. Since I am a non-resident Bengali, I came to know about the custom only at my wedding (and of my kid sister’s talents in this direction). And it is only last month that I had the opportunity to be involved in the preparation of the tatwo. Beginning over two months before the wedding we would get together on weekends and sit surrounded by trays, saris, shirts, chart paper, paint scissors, ribbons, cellophane sheets, muscle cramps, chatter, laughter and a whole lot of fun. Again most of the credit goes to the bride’s tireless creative sister, but surprisingly (for me) even I managed to come up with some pretty nifty ideas (like the theme for this challenge and dont miss the Spiderman 😉 ). Each item is numbered and decoded in another cute little item called the suchipatra or catalogue. This ensures that each gift reaches the right person.
As one can imagine, transportation of these items can be a bit tricky especially if over long distances. Hence the peacock drooped a bit after his travel from Delhi to Kolkata (and beyond) and the (sari) boat (along with boatman) were forcibly squashed and made two dimensional.
To make matters more interesting (apart from the suchipatra) each of the clothing articles of the tatwo was presented with a couplet in Bengali. The groom’s side had to deduce from couplet to whom it referred and only then claim the gift associated with it. My husband rose beautifully to the challenge but the best was when he got an SOS from about 1500 km – the couplet for the sister-in-law is missing! He had about 10 min to come up with one – a whole lot of excitement, fun and bonding 🙂
Quote of the day: “Who, being loved, is poor?” -Oscar Wilde
Well, what did you think – dont keep it in, let us know 🙂 Have great weekend.