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Poila Baisakh – Bengali New Year


Bengali new year marks the beginning of new year for Bengalis and it is widely celebrated across the Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Orissa in India as well as in Bangladesh. In west-Bengal(India) a state holiday is observed and in Bangladesh a national holiday is observed. This is the day when Bengali Community from all over the world unite together irrespective of their cast and religion to celebrate Bangali New year.

Bengali New Year is generally celebrated on 14th of April in Bangladesh as decided by the Bangla Academy and on 15th April it is celebrated in India. History reveals that Bengal, a land whose sons have always struggled for their language against imposition of any other language, is really proud to celebrate this festival. With new clothes and smiles Bengalis distribute sweets among each other and go to Temples and Mosques for prayers. A typical Bengali Babu dresses for poila baisakh in “dhooti & panjabi” or “loongi and panjabi”. Kids generally wear kurta and payjamas and ladies like to take “lal paar sari”. Pohela Boishakh( New Year) joins all ethnic Bengalis irrespective of religious and regional differences.

History of Bengali Calendar :
The Bengali calendar or Bangabda is used in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Assam and Tripura.The Hindu solar calendar based on the Surya Siddhanta that commences in mid-April of the Gregorian year. The first day of this calendar is celebrated as the traditional New Year. It is according to the Bhaskar (Sun) Era, pioneered by Emperor Akbar in 1584 AD.

The calendar was initially named as Tarikh-e-Elahi. The months of the Bengali year(or Tarikh-e-Elahi) were primarily recognized as Karwadin, Ardi, ‘Vihisu, Khordad, Teer, Amardad, Shahriar, Aban, Azur, Dai, Baham and Iskander Miz. It is assumed that the present names of months are kept before the names of the stars. This is introduced from the Shakabda in 78 A.D. to honor the sovereignty of the Shaka.

1. Baishakh from the star Bishakha
2. Jiashthya from Jaishtha
3. Ashara from Shar
4. Sraban from Srabani
5. Bhadra from Bhadrapada
6. Ashwin from Aswaini
7. Kartik from Kartika
8. Agrahayon from Agraihon
9. Poush from Poushya
10. Magh from Magha
11. Falgun from Falguni, and
12. Chaitra from Chitra stars.

Some argue that, Shashanka, king of Bengal, introduced Bengali calendar to memorialize his invasion of Assam.

It is said that under the Mughal era taxes were collected according to the ‘hijri’ calendar. But since it is a total lunatic calendar so it doesn’t coincide with harvest time. So, in order to maintain; Emperor Akbar tried to formulate a new calendar with the help of Fatehullah Shirazi, the great astronomer from Bengal. He organized the Bengali year on the basis of the Hijri lunar and Hindu solar calendars. The new agricultural year was introduced on 11 March 1584.The new year subsequently became known as Bonggabdo or Bengali year.

Tradition is to clear up all dues on the last day of Choitro. On the first day of the new year, landlords would distribute sweets among tenants. On this occasion fairs are organized. The occasion has became a part of domestic and social life. The main event of the day is to open a halkhata or new book of accounts. This was wholly a financial affair. In villages, towns and cities, traders and businessmen closed their old account books and opened new ones. They used to invite their customers to share sweets and renew their business relationship with them. This tradition is still practiced, especially by jewelers.

Celebrations In Kolkata :
Baisakh is considered as a very pious time to conduct marriages and other productive activities. On this day people wear new clothes and decorates their house with ‘rangoli’ which is called ‘alpana’ in Bengali. Choitra the end month of the year is generally a very hectic month and garment dealers give clothes at heavy discount popularly called choitra sale in Kolkata. Cultural programs are organized and prayers are offered with families. Ladies wear white sarees with Red Border and men Dhooti Panjabi and take part in ‘probhat pheri’ procession to welcome the new year.

This day being auspicious, new businesses and new ventures are started. The Mahurat is performed, marking the beginning of new ventures.Traders go to ganga ghat (babu ghat) and open new account books called halkhata. Priests enchant mantras and draws shostik (“Hindu swastika”). Long queues of devotees are seen in front of the Kalighat temple from late night. Devotees offer puja(worship) to receive the blessings of the almighty. On Poila Boishakh various fairs are held in West Bengal. The most famous of these is Bangla Sangit Mela, held at Nandan-Rabindra Sadan ground. This fair is conducted by the Government of West Bengal. People visit their relative’s place and have typical bengali ‘addas’.

Clebration in Dhaka:
Dhaka and all parts of Bangladesh celebrate this festival by their heart. They clean up their homes and take bath early.They visit their friends and relatives and have typical addas. On poila baisakh whole of Dhaka gets colored.

Boisakhi fairs are very famous in all over Bangladesh and handicrafts and toys, clothes etc are exhibited. Also varieties of sweet are and foods are prepared in these fairs.The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers and dancers staging jatra (traditional plays), pala gan, kobigan, jarigan, gambhira gan, gazir gan and alkap gan. They present folk songs as well as baul, marfati, murshidi and bhatiali songs.

Traditional folk plays like Laila-Majnu,Yusuf-Zulekha and Radha-Krishna are staged. Among other attractions of these fairs are the puppet shows and merry-go-rounds.The most colorful new year’s day festival takes place in Dhaka. Large numbers of people gather early in the morning under the banyan tree at Ramna Park where Chhayanat artists open the day with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song, Esho,he Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come).

A similar ceremony welcoming the new year is also held at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. Students and teachers of the institute take out a colorful procession and parade round the campus. Social and cultural organizations celebrate the day with cultural programs. Newspapers bring out special supplements. There are also special programs on radio and television.

The historical importance of Poiela Boishakh in the Bangladeshi context may be dated from the observance of the day by Chhayanat in 1965. In an attempt to suppress Bengali culture, the Pakistani Government had banned poems written by Rabindranath Tagore, the most famous poet and writer in Bengali literature. Protesting this move, Chhayanat opened their Pohela Boishakh celebrations at Ramna Park with Tagore’s song welcoming the month. The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After 1972 it became a national festival, a symbol of the Bangladesh nationalist movement and an integral part of the people’s cultural heritage. Later, in the mid- 1980s the Institute of Fine Arts added color to the day by initiating the Boishakhi parade, which is much like a carnival parade.

However, Bengalis are the people who enjoys their life at best forgetting all grievances and forgiving every one.The grass, the skies, trees ? every natural object seems beautiful and glows with delight and cheerfulness. To each and every Bengali, it is an occasion of joviality to enjoy with immense merriment, in all possible way. Special dishes are prepared on this day. I would like to invite every one to visit the Bengal at this day and see how Bengalis welcome you with their wide open smiley hearts.Visit Kolkata or Dhaka the zeal is same. No border can break the unity of Bengalis.
Happy new year to all.


  1. I wish Pakistan has learnt something from its past mistakes.. From where we started and how we lost East Pakistan.. now on verge of disintegrating it once again..

    But do not allow our fellow countrymen to celebrate and enjoy in the name of such things.. strangly enough we are biased people

  2. Yes..it was a big mistake ever committed by the Pakistan. They tried to suppress Bengali culture by imposing Urdu on Bengalis.Bengal and Bengali language are like mother to all Bengalis, irrespective of their religion and it is not tolerable for Bengalis to suppress their culture.Banning their favorite poet Rabindra nath’s poem and Nazrul Islam’s poem was an Insult.

    However in today’s condition i would like to request every Pakistani citizen to join hands and fight against terrorism.

  3. a sincere thank you to the poster of the article and also all those who wished the bengalis well on this occasion.

    from the surname, the author of the article seems to be not a bengali himself. yet, he has beautifully described this important function. this too goes on to show the inherent unity of the indians. thanks ambareesh

  4. Best wishes to people of Pakistan on our Bengali new year, Shuvho Nobo Borsho to all. Usually I assess Pakistan extremely critically because of things, which I do not want to recall on this joyous day. However, today I must say, reading this article and comments by citizens of Pakistan like Rani (I have a daughter whose name is Rani too), Rubab and Rehan I feel like there is still hope. People still feel empathy for others and can differentiate between rights and wrongs.

    Thank you dear, thanks to the writer
    Shamim Chowdhury
    Maryland, USA

  5. LONG LIVE BANGLADESH, long live BENGALIS from all around the globe( i mean bengalis from Bangladesh,India,Pakistan,Burma,Nepal) i meant, i meant ethically Bengalis not BANGLADESHIS


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