The essence of the family bonding is usually expressed through the tradition of festivities. In the north, it is usually Diwali-Bhaiduj when the extended family members gather together to celebrate the occasion. In Bengal, however, there is a day marked for the Son-in-Laws called JAMAI SHOSHTI, which is perhaps unique not just in India but for the world culture as well. The day usually falls in the last week of May or first week of June, every year (Jaisth maser shukla pokkher shoshti tithi as per the Bengali calendar).
The concept Jamai Shoshti evolved centuries ago to involve the women of the household in the socio-religious affairs of the society at large and specifically the family. It also helps in bonding of the son-in-law with the family of his wife and vis-à-vis… the day marks the gathering of all family members to enjoy the festivities.
On this day, the son-in-law or the Jamai becomes the centre of attraction and the mother-in-law traditionally makes a number of delicacies to feed him. In some traditional Bengali homes it starts with breakfast and ends at dinner. I vaguely remember, my sister coming with their husbands on this day for lunch at our home till my mother was in good health to make the food herself.
My dear friend Indro says that after marriage, the first time when he went to his in-laws home for Jamai Shoshti, his mother-in-law had to be hospitalized and he abandoned the idea of going there for Jamai Shoshti. Recently, his son Judha got married and was all excited to attend his first Jamai Shoshti this year… a week ago, his mother-in-law got admitted to hospital for surgery. But our Judha is a smart chap, the surgery was successful and he got her released from hospital just in time for the Jamai Shoshti!!!
A few of my friends have their mother-in-laws living with them and they enjoy the Jamai Shoshti every single day of the year!! Yesterday, a friend suggested the English term for Jamai Shoshti as Dissatisfied Customer Compensation Day…
Having married in a non-Bengali (Punjabi) household, I never experienced the occasion called Jamai Shoshti… my mother-in-law was totally unaware of such a tradition and my mother never ever insisted.
Today, the 5th of June 2022 happens to be the Jamai Shoshti and I am going to treat myself… order food for lunch, may be a traditional Bengali cuisine from Oh Calcutta…