Pohela Boishakh - The Bengali New Year
Posted on April 11 2021
Esho, he Boishakho, Esho, Esho - Rabindra Nath Tagore
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of multiple New Year celebrations. From Uttarayani to Baisakhi to Vishu and the most recent one Pohela Boishakh.
I got to learn about this auspicious day five years ago, when I was invited by a very dear Bengali friend of mine for “ Shubho Nabobarsho” celebration in Tanzania.
Pohela Boishakh also known Bengali New Year is one of the most celebrated traditions of Bengali culture. It is the first day of the first month of Baisakh of the Bengali Solar Calendar. Bengalis all over the world celebrate this joyous day by greeting each other Shubho Nabobarsho which means “Happy New Year''. A number of fairs are organized all across Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Bangladesh to add to the grandeur and fanfare of this auspicious day. People worship Lord Ganesha and start their new business account.
History of Pohela Boishakh
During the Mughal rule the economy was fully dependent on agricultural productions. Mughal Emperor Akbar collected tax from peasants under his reign from 1556 to 1609. At that time the Islamic Hijri calendar, followed by Akbar, never coincided with the solar agricultural cycles. So he created a new harvest calendar called Fasholi Shan, also known as Bangla calendar and the first day of this calendar was known as Pohela Boishakh.
Celebration of Pohela Boishakh
Generally Bengali people dress up in new clothes, send sweets to relatives and family, spend time with their dear ones and organize musical concerts to celebrate the new year on 14th April. Houses are decorated with Alpona - colourful motifs and sacred art which are done with hands using paint which is mainly a paste of rice.
In the centre of the Alpona, a kalash (jug used in religious ceremonies) filled with water and capped mango leaves is placed. This kalash is marked with red and white Swastika sign. The air grows thick with the aroma of traditional Bengali delicacies including ilish maach, dhokar dalna, rice, and chanar dal.
Traditional Bengali Clothing
Since Boishakh brings spring, women adorn their hair with flowers and wear colourful chudi (bangles) that symbolizes the many colours and renewed life in nature. They wear the traditional white saree with red border. On the other hand, men mainly wear traditional Kurta with Paayjama, Lungi or Dhoti.
This day inspires people to start life with renewed hopes and aspirations.
Wishing you all a Shubho Nabobarsho 2021
শুভ নব বর্ষ
- Shubhra Joshi
(Consulting Stylist at Parinita)