India is a country of multi ethnicity and diverse cultures. In simple words, India is a land of cultures and traditions, heritage and festivities all blended together. Of the various festivities that keep happening all over India throughout the year, a prominent festive celebration is that of Poila Baisakhh or the Bengali New year.
The Naba Barsha or the Poila Baisakhh is the celebration of Bengali New Year that marks the first day of the year in a Bengali calendar. The Naba Barsha is celebrated on 15th of April each year as per the English calendar. In Bangladesh, the Naba Barsha or the Poila Baisakh is celebrated as a national holiday.
The culture and the tradition of Naba Barsha
The Bengali culture is known to be one of the richest cultures of India, so much so that Kolkata has always been termed as the cultural capital of India. In fact West Bengal is considered as the pioneer of the multi ethnic and cosmopolitan culture of the country as a whole. With the passage of time, the Bengali culture has become the perfect blend of tradition and modernity. The Bengali culture is also evident from the various other aspects of the Bengali community like the Bengali movies, the Bengali Literature and of course the Bengali Music which is adored all over the world.
The customs of Poila Baisakh
On the special day of Poila Baisakh, the people of Bengal dress themselves up with new clothes and decorate their homes with flowers. One of the most elaborate traditions of the Poila Baisakh is the designing of Alpona or rangolis at home. The alponas are made with flowers, chalk and abir or gulal. Usually the center of the rangoli is adorned with a decorated earthen pot which has a swastika designed on it. It is considered as an auspicious symbol which marks the prosperity of the family in general. On the day of Naba Barsha, the Bengalis worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi for overall well being, success and prosperity for the entire year.
The Naba Barsha for the Bengalis is also the mark of a business year and thus all the business activities make a beginning on this day. This tradition of marking the first day of business activities is also known as Haalkhata.
The celebrations of Naba Barsha
Naba Barsha brings with it ever year new hope and enthusiasm. It is marked with joy and happiness for one and all, regardless of his financial status. Various organizations mark this special occasion with different cultural programs like songs and dance, poems and games. The day starts with Pravat Pheri which is a procession on the road. This procession is known for the beautiful songs, usually Rabindra Sangeet, the songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. The ladies of the house clad themselves in their traditional Bengali attire, a white saree with red border and adorn white flowers in hair. The men dress themselves up with Punjabi and Pajamas or dhotis which is the traditional Bengali attire for the men. The entire day is spent in several cultural activities and tasting authentic Bengali cuisines. And not to forget, wishing people with greeting like Subho Naba Barsha.
The authentic Bengali cuisine
The Bengali New Year is the ideal time to indulge you with authentic Bengali cuisine. Titillate your taste buds with enticing beverages like Aam Pora Sherbet and delicious food like Shukto. Indulge yourself with Ilish Macher Paturi and the yummy Bhetki Roll. There are several mouthwateringly delicious Bengali spread that are available in the different Kolkata hotels that will certainly woo you to drop in for a memorable lunch or dinner. The Bengali grand feast that usually happens on any Bengali occasion like Poila Baisakh is also known as Bangalir Bhuribhoj.
No Bengali festival is complete without the superb Bengali desserts and thus it is absolutely the right time to give your tongue the taste of fresh variations of Bengali desserts like Kalakand, Rossogolla, Payesh and other yummy sweets. The Poila Baisakh is in fact the ideal time to gorge on the delectable array of delicious and yummy Bengali food which will remain a memorable and enjoyable experience for you for an entire lifetime.
Other Bengali festivals
Some unusual Bengali festivals that are equally celebrated with elan all over Bengal include the Jamai Shasthi which is not very far by days after the Poila Baisakh. It is a day dedicated to the Jamais or the sons in law of Bengali families. Every Bengali mother in law celebrates Jamai Shasthi with equal love and dedication just like the festive of Bengali New Year.
In conclusion, it can be said that the Bengalis have a penchant for anything festive and Poila Baisakh is the right time to revisit the Bengali roots to their cores.