Bengali New Year reknowned as Naba Barsha or Pohela Boishakh among Bengali communities in India and Bangladesh. It is celebrated on 14 April where people from all religions, classes, sexes participate together.
The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is “Shubho Nabobarsho” which is literally “Happy New Year”. In 2016, the UNESCO declared this festivity organized by the Dhaka University as a cultural heritage of humanity.
History of Pohela Boishakh
Akbar the Mughal emperor was collecting the tax under his reign from 1556 to 1609. On the times, the economy was fully depended on the Agricultural productions. That was the time; the Arabic or Hijri year didn’t match for collecting the Agricultural products as the Tax.
Then he made a new calendar to collect the Tax from the people who were fully depended on the Agricultural products. That Calendar was named as Bangla calendar and the 1st day of this calendar known as the Pohela Boishakh.
Traditions, Customs and Activities of Pohela Boishakh
Like the new year day in the rest of India, Bengali families clean their house and decorate them with alpana (rangoli). In the center of the alpana color pattern, they place a earthen pot, filled with water, capped with mango leaves and marked with auspicious Hindu red and white swastika sign. Many people visit the nearby river to say their prayers and take a ritual bath.
Villagers in the villages of Bangladesh also take part in this awesome day of celebration. The shopkeepers arrange “Halkhata” to increase the density of relation with their customers. The customers pay their dues on this Halkhata to the traders and open new account book.
Celebration Of Bangla New Year
People start the celebration by having everything cleaned. People would take a bath in the morning and women traditionally wear saris made of white cloth with red border. Bengali men wear kurta and dhuti (dhoti). After which they would go the streets and start visiting their relatives and neighbors.
Local fairs known as Mela, It celebrates across the country. Nagor Dola, Palkis etc are the part of Mela. In this Mela, people buy and sell their homemade products, foods such as wooden, steel and other groceries.
In Indian city of Kolkata people believe that the Pohela Bishakh is the best time to get married. Shop keepers try to use the occasion so they offer huge discounts on clothes.
“Panta Vat” is the favorite food of the Bengalis. The previous day of Pohela Boishakh, rice are wetted to eat in this day. Panta Vat with the fried Hilsa fish is traditional food which has exceptional taste. Everybody with their relatives and friends eats this food at their homes or in the Mela. The householders serve Cakes, sweets, sours, etc. foods to the guest. Children enjoy this day much than the elder. They were new dresses, draw tattoos on their faces and visit the fair with their parents.
Ramna Batamul and Nabobarsha
On this day, the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka is seen in new colorized. The civilians of Dhaka arrange cultural events and different activities. These activities are started on the dawn of day with the song “Esho he Boishakh” by Rabindranath Tagore. The local organization “Chhayanaut” organize the event under a big old banyan tree at Ramna Batamul. Mongol Shobha Yatra or Provat Ferry, the traditional colorful procession starts in the early morning. On this day people wear different colorful mainly white and yellow colored dresses. Some of the cultural events are music and drawing competition, acting, drama, boat racing, cockfight, wrestling, bull racing, etc.
‘Mangal Shobha Jatra’
Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University organize the main program of Pahela Boishakh – ‘Mangal Shobha Jatra’.The Mangal Shobha Jatra procession starts from the faculty premises at 9:00 am on the day and it will march through Shahbagh, Ruposhi Bangla intersection, TSC and then return to the faculty.
Students are seen working on the paintings, pottery, traditional dolls, well decorated pots, masks and musket at the faculty premises amid enthusiasm. Some students were making bamboo frames of a big fish and some were busy to make an elephant with bamboo frames
To recapitulate,The Boishakh festival is the only festival of Bengali heritage, irrespective of their religious faith. It is a celebration of our diversity indeed. Day by day, Pohela Boishakh is becoming an attractive festive around the world. In fact, different cultured people are getting to attract to this day of celebration.