Sweet Rituals

As Bengalis we love “Fish”. And Fish has also made its entry as a sweet. Well hold on to that cursor and google for fish shaped sweet and you are bound to come across the most common variety of sweets shaped like Fish as Tatwa items.

Tatwa is the gift exchange ceremony prevalent among Bengali Hindus. It is a  ritual of gift exchange on the occasion of marriage. There are primarily two sets of tatwa exchanges. The groom’s family sends the “Gaye- Haludertatwa marking the bathing of bride and groom is their respective native places where the groom’s family sends across Turmeric paste and mustard oil to the bride’s family. Along with this “Gaye- Haluder” Tatwa arrives where the Bride’s family is presented with gifts and sweets.

Sweets occupy an important component of Tatwa exchanges and the artisans toil day and night for these special “Tatwa” Orders.  Infact some of the web portals of the sweet shops have a separate section for “Tatwa” which indicates the market that Tatwa orders generate in the sweet market. Tatwa in contemporary weddings is more than gift- it is a leisure commodity so the “tatwa” products reflect the taste of the family, the status of family. In a recent visit to a family friend’s place, an elderly member commented how the “Phool shajya tatwa” ( gift exchange to commemorate the first wedding night of the couple. This gift comes from the bride’s family for the groom and his family members) from the girl’s family was from Nakur ( a famous sweet shop which only prepares “Sandesh” in North Kolkata). She recalled with pride that the owners of Nakur had specially come up with the idea of preparing something exclusive for the wedding. The exclusivity attached to Tatwa is shown in the way Tatwa items have travelled from Kheer sweets resembling Bengali Bride and Groom to Horse Pulled Tram, Reindeer, Shawl and of course Fish. 

So, Tatwa on one hand is more than gift exchange and on the other it also about the status of  gift- giving family by gifting “exclusive” ly designed products (in these case sweets) and the social display of gifts by the gift –receiving family. In these exchange and display of gifts are the fascinating products that are created and the turnover generated through selling of “Tatwa” products.

Hence all the giants of the sweet industry on their web portals have a special segment on Tatwas. Though there are many more sweet shops like K.C. Das, Hindusthan Sweets which have portals I am listing the three shops which have a separate section on Tatwa items.

Ballaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick          

This shop was set up in 1885 by Ganesh Chandra Mullick in Bhowanipore far away from North Kolkata which was the hub of sweet shops.


2, Paddapukur Road, Bhowanipur, Kolkata- 700 020, West Bengal, India

(033) 2486 9490 / 2454 0281 Mobile :- 098301 29423

mallicksudip@hotmail.com / info@balarammullick.com

Some of the Tatwa products are : Gatraharidra ( A sandesh encrypted with the order Gatraharidra), Phoolsajya (A sandesh encrypted with the word PhoolSajya), Bridegroom Shell (A shell shaped Sandesh resembling Bridegroom) and the most fascinating that catches my eyes – Fruit shaped sandesh, Horse pulled tram ( made of Kheer), and Shenai Set( a set of musical instruments used for shehnai recital)

Ganguram Sweets

Late Ganguram Chaurasia migrated  from a remote village in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to Kolkata in the 1880’s. He was a skilled Halwai and could make mouth watering Sweets. He took up a job in the shop owned by the then Raja Kamala Prasad Mukherjee and used to supply Sweets to the Rajbari. However, when the Government decided to evict the shop in order to construct a road, the Raja, pleased with his service, allotted him a small plot of land near Maniktola north Kolkata, from where the journey of Ganguram Sweets began in 1885.


46 C, Chowringhee Road, Everest House. Kolkata -700071

033-22883420/1184 Mobile : 91-9830096322

Some of the products : Prajapati (Butterfly shaped sweet)


JalBhara Surjya Modak

For the history and contact details refer to https://itiriti.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/sweet-biographies-of-bengal/.


Some of the “exclusive” items: Prawns ( a set of prawns), Train, Swan Sitabhog, Swan Kheer, Shawl (sandesh carved to a shawl).



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