Fun & Frolic in Bengal
When we got the invitation to attend Ronita’s wedding at Kolkata we gladly accepted it and were excited to be a part of the wedding celebrations– a colorful and vivacious occasion: a reunion of family and friends.
The Perfect Couple: Ronita and Pritim
We made further plans to visit Gangasagar, Sunderbans, and Shantiniketan. Dr. Neeta Patil and her team at Sahyogmantra Tours. com made a tailor-made program for us. We are ever so thankful to them for having looked into the minutest details into account.
We– Rahul, Deepa, and myself took an early morning flight to Kolkata from Lucknow. Siddharth also reached Bangalore at the same time. We reached our destination ” The Wise Owl” at Gariahat. A very comfortable place and as soon as we entered the rich aroma of coffee reached our nostrils and wanted to have it. We relished a cup of coffee with some snacks. We changed and went to meet the bride’s family and looked forward to attending all the functions.
Bengali wedding is a visual delight, not to miss the traditional customs and rituals though some modernity was also added.
The groom’s family were from Coimbatore and they seemed to enjoy the rituals.
Ai Buro Bhat in progress
The Ai Buro Bhat was in progress. The bride and groom were offered traditional Bengali delicacies and a lot of merry-making was going on. We too enjoyed the delicious Bengali food and had a great time with all the family members and friends.
In the afternoon we went to the nearby market and then back for the Mehendi ceremony. We too applied henna to our hands.
In the evening we went to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Dey, our wonderful hosts. The Ashirwad ceremony took place where the bride and the groom were finally accepted by their respective in-laws and took their blessings. The elders put husked rice and trefoil leaves on the head of the bride and groom and presented gifts as a token of love. We enjoyed the nice dinner and the Chinese delicacies were delicious.
In the morning they had the Nanni Mukh ceremony wherein a small puja was performed for the well-being of the ancestors, paid homage to the forefathers, and also seek their blessings.
Gae Holud Ceremony
We then after breakfast joined in the Gae Holud ceremony. The turmeric paste was applied to the groom and the bride. The water brought from a waterbody at daybreak is used to bathe the bride. It is known as Snan.
After lunch, Deepa, Siddharth, and I again went shopping at Gariahat Market.
Ready for the Reception Parth and Jayati welcoming the guests
In the evening got dressed up for the wedding and reached the venue, The Taj Gateway, and were floored by the lovely decorations, meeting our friends and family members. It was nice meeting Indrakshi, my friend, who had come with her husband and her lovely daughter, Oyendrilla. It was nice to see Parth and Jayati taking responsibility and looking after the guests so well. It was lovely to be a part of the fun, frolic, and gaiety.
The bride looked very glamorous. As she entered the hall all eyes were fixed on the lovely, stunning bride as she gracefully proceeded towards the lagan mandap.
When the Saat Paak was complete then only the eyes of the bride set on the groom amidst the blowing of conch shells and ululation. It is known as Shubho Drishti. The couple looked so lovely– perfectly made for each other.
Then the Mala Badal and Sampradaan took place. After the usual pleasantries and congratulations, we had our dinner and returned to our hotel.
Early in the morning, Siddharth left for the airport and we left for Gangasagar.
It takes approximately four hours to reach. We took a ferry from Ghat no. 8 and then went in a private car to Sagar Island. To go to the Sagar we took a cart and it was fun to travel in all modes of transport.
Saare Tirth baar baar , Gangasagar ek baar
Gangasagar is scenic. Limitless blue sky above and down below the swifting waves and silvery sand with the backdrop of golden sun rays created an amazingly awesome beauty. It is also known as Sagardweep, a place of Hindu pilgrimage. An annual fair takes place in mid-January which attracts a lot of pilgrims. People take a dip in the confluence as dawn breaks over the water.
It is said “Saare teerth baar baar, Gangasagar ek baar”. We performed puja there and then went to see the Kapil Muni Ashram and temple.
We had a nice lunch there and came back to Kolkata.
In the evening Parth and Jayati took us out for dinner where we enjoyed the typical authentic Bengali cuisine. We bid our byes to all the family members.
Royal Sunderbans Wild Resort
Early in the morning, Deepa went to the airport and we proceeded further for Sunderbans. It took us around three hours to reach Sunderbans. We checked into Royal Sundarban Wild Resort and were offered a welcome drink. The rooms were well furnished and the cottages were spread on a vast expanse of land. The security was good and the hospitality of the staff was excellent. They seemed to be very cooperative. We had a great lunch in the afternoon and had authentic Bengali dishes. After an afternoon siesta in the evening, we went to Jharkhali WatchTower for viewing wildlife. We saw the Tiger Rescue Center see the famous Royal Bengal Tiger and crocodiles too.
The Butterfly garden was also good and then we went to see the sunset at the junction of River Matla and Herobhanga.
Later on, we just relaxed at the resort and had a delicious dinner.
We got ready and left at 8 am for the boat safari and jungle soaring through small creeks. The cluster of islands in the Bay of Bengal full of mangrove forests was worth visiting. It is a picturesque and adventurous natural wonder of the world. The fauna and flora are worth seeing and it certainly quenches the thirst for adventure.
We had our breakfast and lunch in the boat which was freshly prepared there itself. It was a unique experience.
We covered Pirkhali Chora ghanee, Do banki jungle camp, canopy walk inside the jungle. Saw the SudhanYakhali Watch Tower and mangrove nursery. We had tea and snacks and checked out of the resort to go back to Kolkata.
We reached Tatvam Residency and checked in. We then took a taxi and went to meet our friends at New Alipore. We had a lovely dinner with the Samanta family at their residence. It was quite late by the time we reached our hotel.
After breakfast, we set off for Shanti Niketan. It was a four-hour drive and checked into the Garden Bungalow which lies amidst the garden full of creepers, shrubs, and exotic trees. The interiors are furnished tastefully. It provides a rich experience of architectural heritage in tranquil and peaceful surroundings.
Enjoying the art gallery and museum
After lunch, we went sightseeing. We saw the Dehali, Prayer Hall, Shanti Niketan Griha & Bichitra Tagore Sadan, Kopai and Khoai River, Amar Kutir, Handicraft Center, the Art Gallery, and the Museum.
We even saw a program which was being presented by various artists performing dances of different states. It was a visual treat.
It was nice to see Amartya Sen’s house also.
We had hearty typical authentic Bengali food at the hotel. The staff was extremely caring and requested me to taste the fish curry that was specially prepared for the guests which were just awesome.
After breakfast, we just roamed around the lush green garden and the cosy atmosphere was relaxing. We just loved the ambiance of the place.
A film shooting was to take place so a lot of activity was going on there. We were very happy to meet the hero Victor Bannerjee. We got some pictures clicked and spoke to him about how we had liked him in ‘Kalyug’ and other Hindi films.
With Victor Bannerjee
I was very excited to visit Shanti Niketan which is famous due to Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Vishwa Bharti University and had always wanted to see the “Abode of Peace”.
We checked out and went to do some shopping at the market. We purchased some leather goods and handicraft items.
We then went to Kankalitala which is a Shaktipeeth where Parvati’s skeleton fell. It is a nice and clean temple with a pond and has great religious importance. There were no pandas to disturb and we offered our prayers.
Shaktipeeth at Kankalitala
We sat there for some time and enjoyed listening to the soulful Baul song performed by some devotees.
We then proceeded to Kolkata and checked in to Tatvam Residency and had a comfortable stay there.
After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and went around the town meeting some of our friends at Broad Street. From there we went to Gariahat Market and did some sari shopping at RMCA Basak at Nandi Street.
Roamed around just refreshing our memories of the time we had earlier spent at Kolkata. Rahul loved visiting his school and residence at Ballygunge also. We really enjoyed ourselves. Got some Sandesh and other sweets packed to take with us to Lucknow.
We picked up our luggage from the hotel and went to Sealdah Railway station to board the Rajdhani train. It was an experience in itself and we were so surprised as we were given a real royal treatment on the train– right from giving us a bouquet and roses, clicking pics and offering goodies, whatever the reason may be but we really enjoyed our journey back home.