It is yet another Bengali New Year , we call it as Poila Baishakh. Poila ,means the first and Baishakh, the first month of the Bengali Calendar. The first day of Baishakh is not just another day for Bengalis , it is an emotion. The ‘amej’ , what we call as mood start setting from ‘Chaitra’ the last month of Bengali Calendar. From ‘Kosha Mangsho’ to attending ‘Haalkhata’ in ‘Notun Jama’ or new clothes, this is the day Bengalis wait the most for after Durga Puja.
A brief History about Bengali New Year:
There are several debates about how the Bengali calendar and the celebration of Poila Baishakh or Bengali New Year started. According to some sources, the festival was a tradition introduced in Bengal during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar, some say it was Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Mughal governor.
Some theories also justified that the origin of the Bengali Calendar took place many centuries prior to the Akbar era. For today’s Bong, Poila Baishakh is a celebration of unity and the Bengali Identity that we hold so proudly. This is the day where we dress in full Traditional saree and Punjabi and celebrate with our friends and family a new beginning.
Haalkhata is a ritual among Bengali shopkeepers and traders on Poila Baishakh. On the first day of the Bengali New year, traders close old ledgers and start a new ledger for the new year. This special occasion is celebrated by worshiping Goddess Laxmi and God Ganesha. Customers are invited to settle old debts. Seeking to improve the relationship between traders and customers, traders give sweets, snacks, and a new calendar to their customers. It is believed to bring good luck to business. As the year ends, the Bengali community buys the Panjika, a calendar book containing all important dates for the upcoming New Year. Bengalis plan all of their auspicious and important events according to Panjika.
Chaitra Sale :
As the Chaitra Sale starts we get hyped for the new year. From shopping for new clothes to new home decors, Chaitra Sale Shopping is another kind of festival for Bengalis. All the shops start their sale from Chaitra, the last month of Bengali Calendar and it goes on for almost a month till the last day of the year.
Have you got your new pair of saree yet? Yes, Poila Boishakh is associated with notun jama, a new dress. We Bengalis always wear a new set of clothes as a fresh start to the new year. Though the excitement for new clothes goes down as we grow up, we believe in following the rituals and make a fresh and joyful start of the Bengali New Year.
The Food :
Well, be it any Bengali Festival, food is an inseparable part of it. Any kind of celebration for the Bengali Community is just not complete without some delicious dishes. As Poila Baishakh is an extra special day, the menu has to be up to that mark. Fulko Lucchi, Alur Dom, Basanti Polau, Murighanta, Sorse Bata diye mach, Kosha mangsho, Kacha amer chutney, Mishti doi are just a few names and the list goes on. During this time, all the restaurants line up with mouthwatering dishes to woo their guests, from traditional Sorshe Ilish to improvised traditional sweets like baked malai rosogolla the menus are to die for. But what is amiss is yesteryear grandma’s amazing culinary skills which we used to enjoy in our childhood days.
The ongoing pandemic has restricted us in a lot of ways, especially in socializing, but the Bengalis can’t keep calm. The last year and this year are different, there are no social gatherings, no going out, but our excitement is not under control, because after all it’s Poila Baishakh and there are no restrictions to having a feast at home right?
Subho Noboborsho !