If you’ve been reading my Bengali Bride series, you would have seen me talk you through how it began, to the engagement preparations and now finally I have gotten to the Engagment party itself, also known as the cinipaan. Traditionally on this day, the menfolk of the bride’s and groom’s family meet and officially cement the engagement. They discuss wedding dates, dowry (mahr) and the practicalities of the wedding and also exchange taals and feast on food. As time has progressed, this formal occasion has evolved and become a bit of a party and a day to celebrate. I predict as time goes on, this will soon turn into a mini wedding, if it hasn’t already!One thing I have really wanted, was an intimate engagement party. It’s something my parents and family wanted as well, so it was nice that we were united when it came to deciding how big or small the cinipaan (engagement party) was going to be. I just wanted to be as intimate as possible, I come from a huge family and so does my other half so I knew if we started inviting lots of friends and relatives it would all spiral out of control and we would be throwing a party for 250+ guests. As I knew my wedding and mehndi was going to be extravagant, my family and I wanted something intimate and quite personal to us.
A chicken taal made by my Mum, for my husband and his friends to dig into.
The bride’s family host and foot the bill for the engagement party, and nowadays it is becoming more and more common for cinipaans to be hosted in halls and restaurants, which I think is also nice. I just knew that for me and my family, we wanted to keep it traditional and I also wanted my family heavily involved with the details which may not have happened should it have been hosted in a hall with outside caterers. So we agreed to host it at one of the family houses, which ended up being perfect. Luckily, my family are well rehearsed when it comes to throwing big parties, we own a marquee that easily seats around 80 people, and have a large banqueting style set up in the dining room, it just all came together perfectly. My family are in the food trade, and my dad is an amazing chef so he cooked up lots and lots of food which everyone still raves about.
Gorgeous chocolate tiered ‘cake’, made for me by my best friend as a surprise.
I set up a little dessert table for the guests to enjoy, this was a whole story by itself. As usual, I took all of the responsibility on myself and decided I was going to create everything. So the night before, at 1AM I start making the desserts. We were so busy making the taals, I didn’t get a chance to start earlier. Maybe the pressure got to me, but the cheesecake batch went horribly wrong and I ended up with a runny mess. No worries, I told myself, I’ll just go to the 24 hour Tesco at 3AM which is exactly what I did. Only as I turned up there did I realise it was Saturday night so Sunday morning, meaning the shops were all closed! So determined as I was, I woke up after 2.5 hours sleep on the day of the party, and at 6.30AM I was at the local shop picking up the ingredients and carrying on dessert making. I even completed piping the cupcakes after I had my saree, hair and makeup done. I got lucky again, and it all turned out okay in the end.
We didn’t do favours on tables at the cinipaan, but we did make up little boxes of pick and mix sweets for everyone as they came in. My Mum, sister and little cousins all helped me assemble the boxes and fill them and I think they slotted in perfectly with the purple theme of the day.
When it came to the cake cutting, we had two cakes, the one from my in-laws and one from my family. I loved how my in-laws matched my cake to my saree and I love how my cake had the tradition cinipaan details to it like the paan and betel nuts. We cut into both cakes, but ended up eating the fresh cream cake as I do love a good fresh cream slice. However it went so fast, that I didn’t even get a chance to keep a full slice to myself!
After everyone ate, we both posed together for pictures and cut the cake together. He also put my engagement ring on, however I didn’t exchange rings with him. Traditionally at Bengali engagement parties, the couple both exchange rings. The girl wears the engagement ring and then the groom wears his wedding band. After the engagement, the bride’s side sometimes take the wedding band back and then give it again on the wedding day. I just couldn’t get my head around that, or putting a separate band on my fiance. I only wanted to exchange wedding bands once, and that was on my wedding day, the guy is meant to put an engagement ring on the bride, not the other way round! I disagreed with the practice and decided not to do it regardless of any opinions.
I actually also fitted in a mini photoshoot with my then fiance before the actual party. Honestly, I was running around like a headless chicken that day, so I don’t know how I managed to fit that in. But I am so glad I did, and would highly recommend it to anyone who can fit in as you can capture private memories from the day which usually are really hard to get on the cinipaan day as the bride and groom are kept apart for most of the day (as they are not yet wed).
Me and my Daddy later on in the day
As you can probably tell, it was really eventful day but it was perfect. I really saw just how much my family did for me, from cooking to servicing to setting up the house. It was so lovely and heart warming. I was wondering recently that if I could do it again, would I do it at my family house? And the answer is definitely yes, because I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise fit in everything that I wanted for the day and I would’ve missed out on so many details that made the day special, such as relaxing with my girls upstairs as the party gets in full swing downstairs, or watching from the window upstairs as my husband walks into the house with all his family. It is a day I will cherish forever. I hope you have enjoyed this addition of A Bengali Bride, we will catch up again on the next one.