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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Pohela Boishakh 2019: History, significance and rituals surrounding the Bengali New Year

Pohela Boishakh marks the first day of the initial month of Baishakh of the Bengali solar calendar. Bengalis all over the world celebrate New Year on this day which falls on the 15 April this year.

art-and-culture Updated: Apr 13, 2019 18:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Dancers perform on Rabindra sangeet as part of Pohela Boishakh celebrations.
Dancers perform on Rabindra sangeet as part of Pohela Boishakh celebrations.(Shutterstock)
         

Pohela Boishakh marks the first day of the initial month of Baishakh of the Bengali solar calendar. Bengalis all over the world celebrate New Year on this day which falls on the 15 April this year. In other regions of India, people celebrate the solar New Year, while the Sikh and Hindu communities celebrate the festival of Vaisakhi. To celebrate this festival, Bengalis greet each other by saying “Shubho Nobobarsho” which translates to prosperous New Year. A number of fairs are organized across the states of West Bengal and Tripura to celebrate this joyous occasion.

The Bengali calendar is attributed to the 7th century king –Shashanka. It was later modified by Akbar for the purpose of tax collection. According to Historians, the lunar Islamic Hijri calendar followed by Akbar never coincided with the solar agricultural cycles. A harvest calendar called Fasholi Shan was then created and some people believe that this was the birth of the Bengali calendar.

Pohela Boishakh is celebrated by spending time with family, visiting fairs, cleaning one’s house and adorning new clothes. As the year ends, the Bengali community buys the Panjika, a book containing all important dates for the upcoming New Year. All the auspicious events including housewarming and weddings are then planned according to Panjika. Houses are decorated and people create traditional designs called alpana on the floor. A number of delicacies including ilish maach, dhokar dalna, rice, chanar and chanar dal are prepared to welcome the New Year.

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First Published: Apr 13, 2019 18:08 IST

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