Pohela or Poyla Boishakh marks the beginning of the Bengali New Year. Though from Durga Puja to Id, and Christmas to Book Fair, Bengalis have been known to have a big heart and be a part of all kind of festivities, be it religious or social. But Poyla Boishakh has a different charm. It is not observed with the extravaganza of Durga Puja, for sure, but everyone celebrate it in their own ways- subtle and cozy. Let us know some more things about the favorite festival of Bengali- Poyla Boishakh.
- Poila Boishakh falls on 14th or 15th April and is called Naba Barsho. Many regions in India observe New Year Day around this time. Baisakhi in Punjab, Maha Vishubha Pana Sankranti in Odisha, Vishu in Kerala, Rongali Bihu in Assam and the list goes on. In the morning, pujas are performed. Prabhat feri or morning processions are organized. Men, women, children and old people walk around their locality singing Tagore songs. Kids wear new clothes. Afternoon means wholesome lunch with all Bengali delicacies. Evening is left for some outdoor activities like meeting with relatives, friends and dear ones.
- Dressing is very important today on this particular day. Even those who do not get to wear authentic Bengali wear lovingly and zealously drape Bengali tant and handloom sarees, team it with custom jewelry that represent Bengali craft like terracotta, wooden beads etc. You will find men dressed in kurta-pyjama- a typical urban Bengali male wear. Thanks to rising fashion sense and social media hype, people have started taking Bengali festivals even more seriously. People dressed beautifully is truly a treat to eyes. Even the scorching sun fails to dampen the spirit of urban Bengali especially young crowd.
- Restaurants turn Bengali on these days. Elaborate Poyla Boishakh menu will keep you drooling just with its teasers. Advertisements are posted from 15 days with description of the items introduced especially for Poila Boishakh. Restaurants like Aheli, Bhajohori Manna, Oh Calcutta! and Sholo Aana Bangali compete to serve the finest but exclusive Bengali delicacies like Daab Chingri, aampora shorbot, paturi, chital machher muithha etc. Even in every household, there is a gastronomic explosion where every mother wants to serve the best for the family members. Mutton, hilsa, prawns etc are high on demand on this particular day.
- This is a very important day for the business. Bengali tradesmen and shopkeepers open new ledger on this day. They perform special puja of Lakshmi and Ganesh to mark this new beginning. This is called Haal Khata. Customers are invited and treated with gifts and snacks. On the day of Haal Khata, old books are closed and new ones are opened. Customers are expected to clear their debts and start afresh in the new book. Established big businessmen throw lavish party on this day. This custom was started by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1584 with an intention to ease taxation on tradesmen. The literal meaning of Haal Khata means updating ledger. Other than West Bengal, it is also celebrated in Tripura and Bangladesh.
- Bengalis are culturally inclined people, so music and dance programs are an integral part of Pohela Boishakh celebration. Rabindra Sangeet is an integral part of this festivity. Cultural functions are organized by societies, clubs and organizations where everyone performs. This has almost become a tradition. Though in big cities, celebrations revolve around visiting shopping malls and dining out. But there are still people, especially in suburbs and small towns of West Bengal for whom Pohela Boishakh and such cultural programs are synonymous.
Pohela Boishakh is undoubtedly a very vibrant festival and you don’t need to be a Bengali to feel it’s true essence. There is something in the air which makes everyone a part of it.