India is a country of diverse cultures and languages. Amongst these, one of the most celebrated cultures and community is that of the Bengalis. Their celebrations range from the massive Durga Puja ones to the Poila Boishakh festivities – everything they do is resplendent with immense sweetness and colours. From dressing to music to their absolutely delicious cuisine, everything they do is unique.
The Bengali New Year or Poila Boisakh, a day observed with much devotion, is counted as a day of brotherhood amongst the Bengalis. It falls on the 14th or 15th of April each year. In West Bengal, the Bengali New Year is celebrated with a lot of pomp. This is also a great time for weddings. The day of the New Year is highly auspicious and is celebrated by exchanging sweets, greetings, flowers and donning new clothes to mark a new beginning.
Not just the day of the new year but the days prior to the month are special as well, involving fun, frolic, shopping for and preparing for the big day, and other associated activities. Kolkata becomes a thriving hub for celebrations by Bengalis, with the grandest of sales and brands being featured.
With the onset of summer and Kalbaisakhi stepping in, everyone gets ready to worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha for inaugurating new organizations and business accounts. People plan all-year round in such a way that they kick-start businesses on this auspicious day. Prayers are also offered in existing organizations, shops, and businesses. Offices and shops are decorated for the occasion. Customers like to exchange greetings with shop owners as well and this becomes an occasion to gorge on the most delicious sweets that the city offers.
Men and women are seen wearing colourful traditional clothes. The celebrations start in the morning with processions or Prabhat Pheris singing melodious songs to welcome the new year. The Kalighat temple of Kolkata receives visitors from all across the city offering prayers on the first day of the year. Apart from the Goddess Kali temple seen swarming with devotees, other temples as well receive devotees in large numbers. Various fairs and cultural programs at places like Nandan and Rabindra Sadan attract people, who like to dress in their best attire for the occasion.
Fun, frolic, and celebrations continue
Bengalis follow deep-rooted traditions, which make this day more enjoyable. Right from the olden times, it is quite a common practice to buy goodies and clothes for family and friends. Youngsters seek blessings from elders.
Restaurants in Kolkata offer special Bengali dishes, serving special cuisines, and several discounts and offers are extended to attract those celebrating. Boxes of ‘roshogolla’ and ‘sondesh’ are exchanged with families and friends. Sweet houses and outlets are overcrowded on this day. Traditional Bengali cuisine like ‘chholaar daal’, ‘chatni’, ‘shukto’, ‘machher kalia’, and ‘begun bhaja’ is prepared. With such great festivities marking the festival, what better way can there be to start the new year?
This blog has been contributed by Preeti Gupta.