A Marwari Marriage in Kolkata- Part II
A few days prior to the wedding the "Haldi (applying of Turmaric/Sandal paste) dastoor" ceremony starts. It consists of the application of turmeric and sandalwood paste to the bride and the groom who cannot leave the house once the Haldi is applied.. This ceremony continues until the day of the wedding. "Mehfils" are an integral part of every Rajasthani wedding. 'Ladies' mehfils as well as 'gents' mehfils are organised.
One very important ritual among Marwari community is Mehandi( Henna) Ceremony. Mehndi forms an integral part of each and every Marwari ceremony. It is said the longer the colour of the Mehnadi lasts the Bride will get more deep love, respect from Husband & her family.
The traditional dance-'ghoomar' is performed in the ladies mehfil, while men have their own parties. The "Janeu" (sacred thread ceremony) is performed a day before the wedding. The custom of Palla Dastoor is typical to the Marwaris. On the day of the wedding or a day prior to it, the groom's family brings the Palla Dastoor to the bride's house. It consists of clothes, jewellery and gifts from the groom, which the bride has to wear during the wedding ceremony. A Marwari "barat", consisting male& female members, which proceeds to the wedding grounds. Dance is an integral part of a Marwari Barat.
As soon as the "Barat" reaches the bride's house the groom is taken to the ladies section where the bride's mother receives the groom with the traditional "aarti" and he is then taken to the "mandap". The Bride is brought to the mandap by the maternal uncle dressed in traditional marwari costum, which is sent to her by the groom's parents. The "kanyadan " ceremony is then performed by parents wherein the bride is given to the groom for life. "Saat Phreras" are taken round the scared fire while the pundit chants mantras.
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1822-1887)-II
Pursuing his passion for the arts, Wajid Shah built the specatcular Kaisarbagh Baradari palace complex which came alive with music, dance-dramas, Rahas, Jogiya Jashan and Kathak performances, making Lucknow an attractive cultural centre, as made famous by the earlier Nawab rulers of the state. It was during his era that several reputed musicians, poets, composers, and dancers enhanced their repertoire, along with the enriching the light classical form of thumri, the grand revival of the Kathak dance form, and the rise in popularity of Hindustani Theatre. After his deposition to Calcutta, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah longed to keep the pomp and splendor of his beloved Lucknow alive. In his exile in Matiaburj, on the banks of the River Hooghly, Wajid Ali Shah once again used his wealth to relive his former glamorous lifestyle. The adorned walls of the Darbar Hall of Matiyaburj bear witness to the numerous musical assemblies held there, being visited by music-lovers, including great personalities from Calcutta's music circuit such as Aghorenath Chakravarty, Sajjad Mohammad, Dhirendranath Bose, Shyamlal Goswami and Rai Chand Boral.
Wajid Ali Shah's self works included numerous poems, prose, ragas, playwrights and ghazals under his pen name of 'Qaisar'. While his compositions include his famous Bhairavi thumri named 'Babul mora Chhooto jaay' sung by many singers, his ragas (titled Jogi, Juhi, Shah-Pasand etc.), dramatised poems (such as Darya-i-Tashsq, Afsane-i-Isbaq, and Bhahar-i-Ulfat) and ghazals (in the 'Diwani-Akhtar', 'Husn-i-Akhtar'), his great works have inspired many artistes and playwrights alike. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah's personal front was also as ambitious as his passion for the arts, as he took advantage of the Shia Law of Muta to marry an astonishing 359 times. Besides the Nawab's immense contributions to India, one of his wives, Begum Hazrat Mahal was known to be a great Indian freedom-fighter who played a major role during India's First War of Independence (1857-58) against the British.
Best to go from Calcutta. You...
Best to go from Calcutta. You can fly into Bagdogra from Calcutta. As an American, I had to get a additional visa to continue from Bagdogra to Darjeeling. It wasn't that bad... only took a couple hours. From Bagdogra, we took a taxi to Darjeeling. I believe there is a small train that makes the trip but it take 10 hours. The taxi was much quicker (2-3 hours) but is was fairly scary driving at high speeds on such switchback roads. This picture didn't come out too well, but it gives you an idea of the roads.
Enjoying ELISH Festival in Monsoon!!!
Those who are conversant with Bengali food and culture must be aware that Elish fish is the tastiest and most expensive fish. They taste best in monsoon only and the best quality Elish fish is available in the Ganges/ Brahmaputra and other rivers of East Bengal ( Now Bangladesh). The Bengalies love and freak out on Elish. Yesterday, we also decided to participate in Elish Festival and taste the culinery expertise of the speciality Bengali food restaurant TERO PARBAN. It is said for a Bengali there are twelve months in a year but he has thirteen festivals ( Tero means thirteen and Parbon means festivals). Each is welcomed and celebrated in it's special way. This is monsoon ( July to September) and time of Elish fish so the restaurant is celebrating Elish festival.
Tero Parbon, is brain child of a Bengali businessman Mr. Subrata Ghosh Chowdhury, who also runs a chain of restaurants. Tero Parbon serves only Bengali food compiled from various districts of West and East Bengal as the restaurant manager Mr.Amit Mitra informs. Before opening the place they visited various districts of Bengal, tasted the various dishes preferred by the locals, villagers, collected recipe, trained the cooks, did lot of home work and then launched the restaurant. No wonder it's great success among Bengalies or who wants to taste the authentic, genuine Bengali meal. Everyday at least 40 varieties of fishes cooked here with each fish having several variants or styles of cooking. The Elish fish has at least 30/35 variants see picture of menu in next tip. You shall get Posto Bada ( bada made with poppey seeds) of Bankura district to Joshure Koi ( the original Koi fish of Jessore district of East Bengal/ Bangladesh) on any given day here but you have to be here in time as they dont' keep the fish deep frozen for days. Purchase is done on daily basis with size of the fish, freshness etc. kept in mind.
While Mr.Amit Mitra boasts about all the dishes very tasty and cooked authentically, he rates these dishes very high and very popular among the clients: Bhapa Elish ( steamed Elish), Chital Peti, Sahebi Elish( Elish cooked in European style with less spices), Elish Polao, Basanti Polao, Josure Koi, Aaar Macher Kalia, Aam Shol, Dab Chingri ( Prawns cooked and marinated with Coconut), Mocha Ghanto( Plantain flower cooked with fish or other ingrdients), Shukto, Posto Bada, Bhetki Paturi, Potoler Dolma and so on the list is endless. Since we were only two and half persons with Munu and Rakhi very poor eater, we tasted only the following dishes. We ordered Elish Bhapa, Bhat ( rice), Chitol Mach Muitha, Kasha Murgi ( Chicken), Parotha, Luchi, Potoler Dolma and Nalen Gurer Ice Cream ( Ice Cream made with milk cream and jaggery made of date palm juice!). I must admit that we enjoyed our food very much as we enjoyed the company of soft spoken Mr.Amit Mitra, who able management and able handling with personal interaction with the customer has made all the difference. The crew behaviour is polite with helping attitude, ambience is great, clean with soft Bengali music playing, you are going to love this place.
Crab Soup not to be missed!!!
Bar B Que is located on the main Park Street of Calcutta, where many hotels and restaurants are located. This is one of the very old places frequented by the families. They have four sections, three for family and exclusively for singles with bar. The food is good here and expensive. But I still like the Tangra food.
One speciality, they allow children to have their time and also offer small gifts to them. Service is very good and friendly.
Since, city of Calcutta is highly crowded, getting seat on weekends becomes very difficult. The waiting time may be one hour or more. Overall it may be an expensive place, but in my view this is an average place and there are far better places available in Kolkata. I will put them soon in my page. Try their Crab Soup, Its delicious!!!