Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poila Baisakh: Global Tag to Bengali Festival

Celebrating Pohela Boishak.Image via Wikipedia
Poila Baisakh is a major celebration and the first day of Baisakh remains a holiday in Kolkata.

The first month of the Bengali calendar, Baishakh, marks the beginning of the crop cycle in Bengal. The first day of this month is called Poila Baisakh is celebrated as the Bengali new year. Chances are, if you step into a shop in Calcutta on this day, you'll be offered sweets and maybe the odd gift or two. Traders start the new year by inaugurating new accounting books.

It is considered the most auspicious month for marriage, the most auspicious month for undertaking any business venture and it is also the month when all agricultural production process begins. Bengali’s think that any child born in this month would acquire all the qualities of being a prodigy. No wonder, the great Rabindranath Tagore, was born in this month. Rabindranath was born on the 25th of Baisakh.

On that day, people wear new dress and go about socialising. The houses are thoroughly cleaned and freshly painted. People decorate their houses to welcome the New Year and the season of flowers. Women make elaborate rangolis on the ground near the entrance to their house. Beautiful designs are drawn with the help of a paste made of rice flour and rows and rows of houses with intricate patterns in front of them make a pretty picture. Cultural programms are held, sweets are distributed and greeting are exchanged.

Special prayers are held for the welfare of the family. Procession called ‘Prabhat Pheri’ is held early in the morning to welcome the New Year. Women dress in white saris with red borders while men wear ‘dhoti’ (loincloth) and ‘kurta’ (shirt) to take part in the procession. Cultural programs are held.
In global terms its a Bengali New Year and just like Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Friendship Day and ofcourse X Mas and New Year. Every other retail outlet seem to be making the most of it.
While some have made a mix and match of tradition and change, others have caught the mood of the times with band music, CD launch etc. And not to be missed are the lavish food fares at star hotels with a mad rush for bookings.

Celebrities add to the fun, say for instance Manthan invited Chiranjeet and Papiya Adhikari, to flag off their specail Poila Baisakh spread. Tanushree Shankar, who participated in one such event at a city mega store, believes there's nothing wrong in the new trend.

"Its one way to keep the spirit alive. In an age where the youth identify with glamour and glitz we must cater to their tastes. Its one way to ensure their involvement in Bengali festivals just like Valentines Day or X Mas."

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